Be Yourself at Conferences

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Conferences can make even the most outgoing person nervous. In such a socially intense environment, it’s easy to have a mini identity crisis: Who am I? Why would people want to talk to me? Forget those worries and be yourself. Resist the urge to drop a name or spout off your credentials, e.g., you have a fancy title or you’ve had work published. Instead, get to know people as people, free of titles and status.

Let them get to know you in the same way. Sure, it’s nerve-wracking to introduce yourself without immediately identifying your role. But try asking open-ended questions and getting personal. Ask your fellow conference attendee what she’s enjoying about the conference, or even how far she traveled to get there.

Adapted from “How to Attend a Conference as Yourself” by Peter Bregman.