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
As 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.