Attending a conference alone can be an overwhelming experience. The thought of striking up conversations with strangers and eating meals by yourself are enough to make you forget the whole trip altogether. However, with some planning beforehand, the solo conference experience can be a positive one. Here are our seven tips for successfully navigating events on your own.
Know Your Stuff
Research the location and venue ahead of time. Is it in a walkable location or will you need transportation to get around the city? Having this knowledge ahead of time will go a long way to lessening travel anxiety.
Event planners are using social media to create buzz around their conferences ahead of time, so take the time to search your event's hashtag. Follow these threads before the conference to find people you'd like to connect with while you're there. It may only amount to a handful of actual conversations, but those contacts could turn out to be valuable in the future.
A Quiet Space
Establish a space you can retreat to when you need a quick snack break or a few moments of quiet before getting back in the fray. Maybe it's your hotel room, or a nearby café, or that one cozy armchair in a quiet corner. Remember, it's okay to take a break.
Dress the Part
Be sure to pack conference attire that makes you feel confident. Wearing clothes that make you feel at your best will go a long way toward projecting a self-assured air as you meet new people and represent your organization.
Get in Line
Sometimes, the best conversations start while waiting in line. Get chatty with your fellow linemates as you wait for food. That conversation could turn into grabbing lunch, which could prove to be a valuable networking opportunity.
Take advantage of your alone time! Enjoy the sites of your conference location, and plan your itinerary of museums or other places that pique your curiosity. There's no one to tell you no!
There's going to be lulls in the action where there's no one to talk to. Having your phone or laptop handy to catch up on calls or emails will keep you occupied, and ease the awkwardness of being on your own.
Turn your solo conference experience into an opportunity to branch out of your comfort zone and strengthen your networking skills. Researching the location and potential contacts will lessen your anxiety as you head into an unfamiliar situation, but be sure to leave space in your schedule for organic interactions with your fellow attendees, as well as some time for yourself.