Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone

Over the years, I have attended several conferences with colleagues where we have, perhaps unknowingly, acted as each other's security blankets.

Over the years, I have attended several conferences with colleagues where we have, perhaps unknowingly, acted as each other’s security blankets. I recently attended Turing Fest in Edinburgh, where I was the sole representative for Mesomorphic, and for the first time I was slightly apprehensive of crossing the threshold into the EICC. This blog is inspired by some of the lessons I learnt over the two days. If you have others, why not add them in the comments section below? it would be great to hear from you!

  1. Step away from the mobile - Work is not going to implode if you don’t answer your emails or messages for 10 minutes. Put your phone away for a bit and concentrate on what’s happening in the room.

  2. Plonk yourself down - Whether this is finding your seat for a talk, or grabbing a bite to eat at lunch time there is nothing wrong with sitting next down to another solo conference attendee and starting up a conversation.

  3. Wear a talking point - My secret weapon are my Irregular Choice shoes. Now I appreciate that pretty shoes aren’t for everyone. Why not wear your favourite gaming t-shirt? Or Lobster pattern dress? You’ll be surprised at how many people will approach you to use them as an icebreaker.

  4. Attend that social event - The evening event for Turing Fest was at a loft club in town. With clubs not normally being my scene, it took me a while (at least an an hour and a half plus a glass of wine!) to pluck up the courage to go. It was a good job I did! I ended up meeting Anne from Seegreen.

  5. Stand at, but don’t prop up the bar - People watching is a great pastime of mine, and there’s no better place than from a bar stool. Be careful though, try not to be the sole source of the bar’s profit margin. Remember you are there representing your company.

  6. Don’t OD on coffee - It’s incredibly easy to just drink caffeine all day. Just be careful though. A hundred-miles per hour conversation could end up putting people off networking with you!

  7. Wear comfortable shoes - It’s important to remember to wear shoes which will not slip and slide everywhere on polished floors. Bambi on ice impersonations are not the best way to be remembered at a networking event! Choose shoes which won’t remould your feet after a couple of hours wear. It’s a good idea to make sure they are stair/escalator proof. There’s nothing more annoying that walking up the stairs and having your shoes slip off.

  8. Write up a social media post - After Turing Fest, I was slightly kicking myself for not taking advantage of social media more. Take that selfie, probably best to avoid the trout pout and promote the fact that you’re at this networking event! Don’t forget to tag your new pals afterwards.

  9. Chat to the sponsors - By identifying sponsors which are of interest to you, you may end up meeting like minded people at the sponsor stand.

  10. Take your mobile charger or invest in a portable charger - If anything, you don’t want to be caught short when you’re relying on Google Maps to get back to your accommodation and end up making a 2 mile detour!

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