Dreamforce Concert with Bruno Mars

How to Survive one of the Largest Tech Conferences in North America as an Introvert

I recently had the privileged to attend Dreamforce, a conference hosted by Salesforce. Salesforce is the world’s most innovative company, according to Forbes, for four years in a row. This year it was held in San Francisco. This was my first year attending and little did I know about the size and intensity of this action packed four day conference. With over 140,000+ registered attendees, this can become incredibly overwhelming for an introvert. Excessive stimulation at every corner, cumbersome small talk from the moment you get up and the feeling of being alone among so many people create a need for introvert survival. I created a survival guide to embrace my introvert self and  ultimately get the most out of this incredible conference. The struggles an introvert faces can be addressed with the following;

 

1. Network in Small Groups

Networking for introverts (read: small-talk) can be stressful if you are not mentally prepared. Small talk can create all sorts of unnecessary anxiety attacks. Try to network in smaller niche groups over the larger mixers. This is what I did and kept to myself at the larger concert type events to reduce levels of stress. I had a few value add conversations with connections I made at these smaller events, however once this conversation took place I could feel the energy draining from my body and knew it was time for me to turn it in for the evening. Pay attention to whether you are losing or gaining energy from being around others. It also helps if you prepare a mental list of conversation points and questions to ask.

2. Take Time to Recharge

DreamforceAs an introvert, time alone to recharge can make or break you.  This is one of the fundamental characteristics of introverts.  While an extrovert would get bored spending this time alone it is completely necessary and satisfying as a introvert. If you are sharing a hotel room with a coworker take time to zone out, meditate or do yoga to get back your fuel. The outdoor seating at Dreamforce was where I would recharge in a bean bag chair under the sun before heading to another session.

3. Avoid Shows that Involve Audience Participation

Now, Tony Robbins was one of the keynote speakers at Dreamforce and I must say I deliberately avoided this session and chose to instead watch from outside. This is one of the most terrifying things as an introvert, especially if you are not stocked up on your energy for this type of activity. Huge gatherings and essentially parties just aren’t my thing and it’s been scientifically proven that introverts and extroverts differ significantly in how their brains process these type of experiences.

 

For the “Old Souls”, those not “coming out of their shell”, and everyone who “needs to speak up”, not everyone at the conference is an extrovert so stop struggling against your nature and maximize your natural gifts as an introvert.

Marketo Marketing Nation Summit, San Francisco 2014

I recently had the privilege to represent Marketo Marketing Nation SummitFlight Centre Canada at the Marketo Marketing Nation Summit in San Francisco. Surrounded by 6,000+ fellow marketers from around the world, this three day conference stirred up innovation in the nation, highlighting the latest trends and newest technologies resulting in a sophisticated marketing automation system. Hillary Clinton, the keynote speaker, addressed a number of different issues including; equality of wages, the role of social media in revolution, freedom of the internet and dropped one of the biggest hints yet that she’ll be running for president with a simple “I am thinking about it,” when asked of her 2016 intentions. Beth Comstock, CMO of GE, reminded attendees that you can be creative with a little bit of money and the value of partnerships. She stated that the problems we are trying to solve today are too large for one business to figure out or conquer on their own.

With every large marketing event these action packed days are filled with the best kind of parties. The Marketo Gala was held at the Exploratorium, down on Pier 15 and was the party of the year. Thank you to the brilliant Marketo team for hosting this incredible event and connecting marketers, partners and thought leaders from around the world.

Exploratorium San Francisco