Socializing and Networking Tips

<p>I'm going to be attending an academic research conference in less than a month. I'll be meeting a lot of people from different parts of the nation and I'll be expected to be a socially mature student. But I'm really scared and worried about being in awkward and embarrassing moments when I don't know what to say and/or how to behave. My poor oral English presents an even greater obstacle, along with my shy personality. I also am much less mentally mature than typical someone of my age so this is another problem that will make it difficult for me to interact with profs and colleagues naturally. Please give suggestions on how to be socially successful or at least socially natural while participating in such event as academic research conference?</p>

<p>just bringing up this issue and realizing means (at least to me) you are mature on some level</p>

<p>just force yourself to be outgoing, keep saying over in head when your not talking to people "meet someone else"</p>

<p>Wow, you're being really, really hard on yourself here! </p>

<p>First, there aren't going to be any embarrasing moments, because, you're simply not going to allow them. </p>

<p>Second, everyone - even the keynote speakers- get a little stage fright at these events. It passes. And over the course of a career, you start to see the same people over and over again at conferences, so...</p>

<p>As an introvert who would prefer to not have to attend these sorts of things, but who has to go to a LOT of them, the best way I have found to deal is to ask open-ended questions of the other participants. You can even make yourself a list and a cheat sheet before you go. </p>

<p>People LOVE to give their opinions on matters, and, in this sort of situation, assuming the venue was new to me, I would stand silently in or near the center of the room, and let people approach - and then, if a conversation with someone doesn't take root naturally, I just ask questions. </p>

<p>You can ask where people are from, what they are looking forward to on the agenda, what is most important, what, given their experience, should you focus on, do they think the conference is well organized, have they ever heard so and so speak before, etc. </p>

<p>You can also review the attendees list ahead of time, and see if there is anyone on the list that you would especially like to meet. People are flattered, blown away actually when they discover you have taken the time to read their CV...</p>

<p>I have similar problems... I don't have problems communicating with one or several ppl but speaking before large audiences scares the hell out of me... plus English is not my mother tongue which makes it even worse. How do you manage stress when you do presentations? Do you learn them by heart? How do you overcome the fear of speaking in class? The problem is that my high-school education sucked in respect of presentations and class participation, in fact we did not have any :D So now I have to face it in college and it's scary... Sorry if I should have made a seperate thread for this but could you give some tips about presentations and public speaking as well?</p>

<p>Rehearse if you can in front of someone who can give you tips. It's been a while since I've done a formal talk, but my husband heard the last one at least twice before its intended audience heard it. His advice to me is always speak louder and speak slower. I write a script and then toss it in favor of an outline. I like to have note cards, (this was back before powerpoint became ubiquitous), but refer to them as little as possible. Try not to just read the bullet points off power point slides - I find that really, really tedious. Power point though makes it easy to stay on topic and organized. You do get used to public speaking eventually - or at least I did. I was PTA president for two years and now when I have to go an make a case before a zoning board I am much less nervous than I used to be.</p>

<p>As to OP. You have the right idea, plan now for what you might say to someone. Other questions might be, "How did you hear about this conference?" "What are you studying/what's your field?" or you can just turn to your neighbor and say "That was a really great/terrible talk wasn't it?"</p>

<p>Surfin, as mathmom writes it takes time, and practice. You overcome the fear by stepping in front of the microphone as often as possible. </p>

<p>I would keep ALL comments to others, even the most casual, positive though - even if the talk or presentation really was terrible, unless you know the terrain, you cannot know if the person you're addressing is the spouse or very close associate or friend of the speaker...really poor form if that doesn't go your way...if your comments to/about others are always positive, you never have to worry about being embarrassed later.</p>

<p>^^Good point latetoschool, I've used that line mostly for really terrible continuing ed classes I have to take. I'm always surprised how much less picky other people are than me. One of these days I'll get into trouble, I'll be talking to the teachers best friend or something. Interesting, informative, enlightening, not terrible. :)</p>

<p>Ditto on the advice to make a written list, made beforehand, of questions to ask people/topics of conversation. Then, fold it up and keep it in a pocket. That way you'll have the confidence to know you've got topics at hand to talk about, and won't fear not knowing what to say.</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>A few tips- no one wants to "trap you". They all want people to have a good time, learn and interact. So ask questions, be a good listener, and its okay to say, I have never been to an event like this, how does it work? Most people are kind, gracious, and willing to share.</p>

<p>I go to various events and if I see someone young who is looking uncomfortable, or nervous, I will just start talking to them. (its the mom in me).</p>

<p>These things aren't like highschool, where people will giggle and such. They are there to share information, and want everyone to benefit from it. And very likely there will be other students like you, model some of what the more experienced ones do.</p>

<p>At these "adult" professional events, they have all been in your shoes and will be very forgiving of nerves, jitters, and won't think your questions are silly or judge you if you make a mistake.</p>

<p>Something I recommend for ALL college students, is to get some inexpensive, simple business cards printed up- just a name, and email address. It is so nice to be able to hand a contact, or someone your card instead of searching for a piece of paper to scribble it on (and often the handwriting is illegible), you can write a quick note on the back- from the symposium on shoes or whatever.</p>

<p>Get a portfolio, you know the ones that hold a legal pad, so you can write notes, etc. It is calming to have something in your had and just good business practice.</p>

<p>Carry some mints for the breath. And when you check in, be sure and ask any questions you think you might have about the logistics of the conference- the check in people are usually so nice and friendly.</p>

<p>Just smile, and use small opportunities to practice. For instance, if you are getting coffee or water, ask the someone standing next to you, so how do you like the conference so far? Boy, I love it when they serve bagels!!! This is my first conference like this. Pretty exciting if a tad over whelming.</p>

<p>And just remember this- no one will think you are silly or immature if you smile, listen, shake hands with the person next to you, ask a few questions.</p>

<p>You will be fine! You can't really do poorly if you take everyone advice. But remember, don't worry so much. People are nice! And if someone isn't friendly it isn't you, its usually they are distracted, busy, shy themselves, or just having a bad moment. Just move on. </p>

<p>And congratulations on being invited to go! Something else, you are a student, so won't be expected to have "perfect" clothes, but going in with simple business type attire will help you "blend" in a little bit more and people will see that you aren't just a college kid who is clueless,, but a young budding professional who is excited to be there. </p>

<p>Not sure if you are female or male, but read the thread on interview attire. That would be about right.</p>