Something about conferencing and cocktail parties…

green olives in wineglass,focus on a olives

So anyways, I’m off to Melbourne on Friday for the RWA Conference- Romance Writers of Australia. Yep, I’m one of them now- a romance writer.

I’m looking forward to it- after all, it’s in Melbourne…of course I’m looking forward to it. I’m booked into some interesting sounding sessions, and I’m hoping to meet some people for real that I’ve met in the cyber world.

Here’s the thing though…and I can say this without fear of judgement because it’s the confessional…I’m not great at the whole conference thing.

I’m not great at having my time organised- I prefer to come and go as I feel like coming and going; I’m not great at meeting new people- I get this humungous inferiority complex (and yes, I realise that’s an oxymoron) and worry that no one would be interested in knowing me anyway; and I’m not great at being in rooms with lots of people for extended periods of time- I need my own space to retreat to when the noise and the schedule gets too much. All of this makes me sound really anti-social, but I’m not…not really…

The one thing that is concerning me the most is the Friday night cocktail party. I’ve been umming and aaaaahing about attending since I booked the conference. I don’t own a dress- and don’t intend to buy one for one night- so what to wear? Do I have anything that can be glammed up a tad? I don’t know anyone else, so how to walk in on my own? What if I’m that person wandering around with a glass of bubbles, watching everyone else having a great time? It’s all, of course, in my head, and I’m blowing the whole thing completely out of proportion, but that doesn’t mean the concerns aren’t real to me.

Having said that, I’ve decided to go to the cocktail party…and, now that I’ve made up my mind, I’m looking forward to that as well. This year was all about being fearless, and making excuses to sit in my lovely hotel room because I’m scared about wearing a dress or meeting new people or being boring and ignored, doesn’t fit into that category. Besides, it’s the perfect opportunity to meet new people- people who were probably worrying about the same things as I am- but who have got the dress, taken a dose of harden the flip up, and are stepping out.

One thing that’s become crystal clear to me over the last few weeks is just how good the RWA are at this stuff- the whole conference thing, as well as dealing with irrational insecurities like mine. They even have a team of “wranglers” whose role is to look after us newbies.

There’s a Facebook group open just for us to get to know each other. There’s a pre part to the cocktail party just to put us at ease and to remove the walking in on one’s own horror scenario. There’s newbie only wranglers doing newbie wrangler stuff at morning and afternoon tea in case we need a friendly face. There’s more than this, even. Lots more. Special newbie stuff. As I said, the RWA is good at this.

In fact, the only thing they’re not doing, is organising a dress for me. Perhaps if I ask really nicely…? No?

Linking up in the confessional today with Kirsty at My Home Truths

How are you with the whole networking thing? 

Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

16 thoughts

  1. I’m actually okay at networking and happy to walk up to complete strangers and introduce myself. It gets awkward if their eyes glaze over and they ignore me and pick up talking to others where they left off but that very rarely happens fortunately.

    Reading heaps of blog posts in the lead up to conferences (like Problogger) it’s interesting to note that almost everyone’s worried about the networking element.

    The idea of the FB page for newbies sounds great. Perhaps a few of you could meet somewhere beforehand (preferably a bar!) and head into the event together?

    1. Thanks Deb. There’s a meet-up before hand for us newbies- they’ve thought of everything. You’d think with the job I do that I’d be fine…but something like this is more me than the me I present at corporate meetings. I think thats why its so scary. I’m sure it will be great, though…

  2. I totally get it! I’m not very social and networking face to face scares the hell out of me. Make it a challenge – see how many people you can walk up to and introduce yourself to. Good luck and have fun!!

    1. You’d think that in my corporate world I’d be used to this- but something like this is so much more personal. Thanks Jen- I’m sure it will be great.

  3. Sounds exciting and it’s great that they have things like a FB page to connect prior to meeting in person. I must admit I am not great in large groups but I have overcome that fear significantly in the past couple of years. Good luck! 🙂

  4. hi, I’m middle aged mama’s bestie. Im totally looking forward to the conference but I’m a shy newbie too. I’ll be the one lurking around the edges looking for somewhere to fit in. Come join me.

  5. I’m excited for you Jo. Having just attended #pbevent I think I’m okay at networking. I just go and introduce myself to people now. What do I have to lose? You’re all there for the same reason and you might just make a connection that will help your writing too. Have a blast!!!! (and will you linkup a photo of your dress for us???)

    1. Thanks Kirsty. Re the dress? I think as Eddy on AbFab once said, it could be just the dreaded kaftan the way I’m going!

  6. I can do the networking thing and when I am in the zone – I rock. But I can also feel completely stricken and unable to communicate. I always feel inferior to those who look like they know more or have done more than me. Thanks for being honest in your post, but I have a feeling you are going to go and be fearless and wonderful and make some lovely new connections. The one thing I am learning is that the creative communities of the world are the most lovely, sharing and caring I have met! Go and enjoy and don’t worry about what to wear. Black pants and a nice top – done! Mel xx #imustconfess

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