Networking for Introverts: 7 Tips for Your Next Event

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Have you ever been uncomfortable in a room full of people? Do you revel in the thought of just reading a book by yourself on a Friday night after a long week? Do you get more accomplished alone than in a group?

You might be an introvert.

Introversion often gets confused with shyness, but being outgoing and introverted are not mutually exclusive. In the case of introversion and extroversion, we are talking about the amount of stimulation that recharges you. Susan Cain, author of the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, explains:

“Introverts…may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”

Introverts are needed in every industry and marketing is no exception. As marketers, we need to listen to our clients’ challenges to make informed and customized suggestions. Great ideas don’t always come from a group brainstorm, sometimes they occur during a solo walk to the café or while you’re enjoying a dinner by yourself

One area where introversion presents challenges is networking. I confess: talking shop to strangers is usually the last thing I want to do after a long workday.

If you’re an introvert and find yourself anxious leading up to a networking event, here are a few tips:

Bring a friend
This helps get your feet wet. If you are really interested in a topic or hearing a speaker but dread the awkward “mingle” time full of small talk, bring your extroverted friend to start conversations.

Pump yourself up
You are awesome. Staying at home or hiding in the corner is not only stunting your growth, it is doing the world a disservice. Your voice is needed because you are the only one with your perspective and experience.

Find another introvert
One-third to one-half of the world’s population is introverted. That fraction decreases in social settings, but I guarantee you will still find one. Introduce yourself. It can be as simple as “Hi, my name is…” or “Hi, what brings you here?” Focusing on making one meaningful contact is less intimidating than trying to meet X number of people.

Choose an event that incorporates activities
Check the event description or contact the organizers to see how it is structured. During the Diversity in Tech event I attended two weeks ago, the facilitators from Resilient Coders instructed us to get into small groups for a variety of activities. After some individual work and small group discussion, we all heard from each of the groups. This balance of alone time and outward discussion allowed introverts and extroverts to have their voices heard. Jiaorui Jiang, a fellow introvert I met at the event, felt the same way.

“The fact that it’s called a ‘networking event’ is intimidating actually,” Jiang said. “I would much rather go to events that are talk or activity focused so at least I know whoever is attending and I have similar interests and have things to talk about. But if I don’t feel like networking, I would really appreciate a safe space where I can get some alone time and not being judged.”

Shut your phone off
This one is difficult, but important. We have become so addicted to our mobile inboxes, newsfeeds and texts that walking around with faces glued to screens has become the status quo. It’s too easy to hide behind your screen and avoid interaction. Turning your phone off is a good reminder and challenge to talk to the actual sentient humans around you.

Practice your elevator pitch
If your barrier to attendance IS talking about your work, practice. Ask a coworker to hear your two or three sentence speech about what your company does and your role in it. Then ask a friend to hear the refined version. Are you missing anything? What questions might come up for someone who has never heard of your company or position?

Be interested
Seek out the speakers or attendees on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. See what common interests you have and come up with questions to ask. Find people volunteering at the event and ask about their organization. You can even come up with a blog topic related to the event and use it as an excuse to talk to people. Introduce yourself by saying, “Hi I’m writing a blog on XYZ, can I get your opinion on …”  That’s what I did!

Also, read Susan Cain’s book or listen to her TED talk.

How to Survive a Tradeshow on a Broken Foot

The sun was shining. There was a crisp bite in the air that signaled winter was soon approaching. I rounded the corner on Heath Street (riding my beautiful mint green 2016 Genuine Buddy Scooter), on a mission to get to a couple of media meetings, when suddenly… I flipped.

After a brief five seconds on the ground, facing oncoming traffic, the adrenaline kicked in. As people started to crowd around me and help move my scooter away from the Green Line train tracks, I jumped up.

Do we need to call the ambulance?!” one guy shouted at me.

No! Please don’t. I’m fine.” I said.

Luckily, my scooter was unscathed. I hopped back on and very carefully (at 5 mph) got myself to the media meetings and gave the reporters walking tours of two large hotels.

After a weekend of limping around, two x-rays and an MRI, I learned that I fractured four bones on the top of my foot and was sentenced to six weeks in an air cast.

Six. Weeks.

Stephanie Ross sits on her scooter at RSNAWhile the boot put a damper in my wardrobe, it also put a damper in my schedule. I had a tradeshow in Chicago in two weeks, and not just any tradeshow – the largest radiology meeting in the world, drawing 58,000 attendees annually. I was worried I was going to miss it. It was an opportunity to meet face-to-face with my Sweden-based client and a first experience for me with tradeshow media interviews.

I had to go. And where there’s a will… there’s a way.

My colleagues, client and family were reluctant to see me go. Trade shows are on-your-feet, exhibit hall-giant, evening event experiences. Still, I made my way to Chicago and spent three days with my crutches and my client. Was it tiring? Yes. But was it worth it? Absolutely.

Here are 5 tips for how to survive a tradeshow with a broken foot:

 1.     Triple check with your airline about special assistance.

Call your airline ahead of time requesting wheelchair service on both legs of your trip. Make sure they will have a wheelchair waiting for you at the gate when you arrive. Then, call again to make sure everything is set – wheelchairs, pre-boarding and arrival. Sometimes, they forget to enter it or there is some sort of miscommunication that forces you to not get pre-boarding and hobble alongside the inpatient passengers (I’m looking at you, American Airlines). Pro tip: remember to carry cash to tip the employees who wheel you around – it’s not an easy task.

2.     Rent a scooter or wheelchair

Ahead of your tradeshow or conference, check the website for accessibility services. Most of the time, these large venues allow you to rent a scooter so you can zoom around. The rental was $50/day and it was extremely worth it. I was able to scoot around the tradeshow floor to meet with different reporters and exhibitors (and I was never late, since the scooter was wicked fast).

3.     Wear a comfortable shoe

That’s right. Shoe – singular. You depend so much on your healthy leg when you have a broken foot, it’s important you wear a shoe that’s comfortable. Learn from my mistake: that cute black, Italian leather heel that you thought would even out your lopsided stance doesn’t.

4.     Identify spots for you to sit during slow booth time

Similar to locating the nearest emergency exit when boarding a plane, you should locate the nearest chair, bench, table or clean floor for you to sit. Tending to a booth at a trade show is tiresome – you’re on your feet for hours at a time. If the healthiest feet need rest, you better believe your broken foot will need some too.

5.     Use the boot to network

As I stood at my client’s booth, my foot and I were met with sympathetic glances that soon turned into friendly introductions. I can’t tell you how many times I had to answer the question: “how did it happen?” However, one of the positive outcomes was how many booth visitors we engaged with because of the ugly, gray boot.

Can you wear the boot again next year?” my client asked.

“Sure,” I said, “Maybe.”

(Disclaimer: I’ve been boot-free for 46 days and counting. The boot, however, was unable to introduce me to or attract potential boyfriends. Bummer.)

The Good, Bad & Smelly: A Trade Show Debrief

HbKcBxKJwMvqK3zTY0qt3Txbo2aWichuxoJg0JJJZhAWe’re coming down from eight months of developing content for our client’s conference with over 10,000 attendees. I’m always amazed at how much time and planning goes into a trade show. And then, within days, it’s all over. It’s been two weeks since the show’s closing day and, shockingly, I’m sad!

Leading up to the opening of the show, I get an adrenaline rush from the panic—can all of this get done in 3 weeks?! The answer is—with the great team we have—absolutely! The first two days of the show, we run around like crazy people putting in over 15 hour days. We are developing, designing and producing items that were forgotten, lost or had mistakes. The result? No one knows the items were forgotten, lost or had mistakes because the finished products look exactly as they were intended to look. Once we get into day three, we actually have time for dinner before 9pm and a few hours of sleep. Progress!

Here are some of my key takeaways from this year’s event:

Land of the Lost. You have a strategic plan when packing everything for the event truck. But somehow one box always goes missing and never shows up. Be resourceful and develop a plan to immediately produce materials on site.

What’s that smell? Anything with mayo should never be served at a trade show event. Period. You’re just asking for trouble.

Relationships. HB is so fortunate to work with an unbelievably awesome events team. Good client relationships make the experience more rewarding and the work more impactful.

A few days later on the flight home, we thought  about the successful show and what we could do better next time… because we can always improve. And now, two weeks later, with the post-show blues beginning to fade, I am looking forward to a few months from now when we begin brainstorming for next year’s show and all of the feelings that go along with it.

Digging in and Doing Good

HB is comprised of designers, storytellers, writers, teammates and friends. Each “HBer” is unique in his or her own way, with differing histories, hobbies, habits, hopes, ambitions, expertise—the list goes on. But despite all of our differences, there are a handful of things we all have a steadfast commitment to:

  • Our families and friends;
  • The quality of our work; and
  • Having a positive impact on our environment and community.

HBers recognize the value and importance of volunteerism and charitable efforts to create a better world for future generations. It is through these efforts that we hold ourselves accountable to our commitments.

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With that in mind, HB is thrilled to partner with CitySprouts, an amazing organization that develops and maintains gardens at public schools throughout Boston and Cambridge to inspire teachers, students and families to have a deep, hands-on connection to the food cycle, sustainable agriculture and the natural environment.

Last week, HB kicked-off its CitySprouts work at the Andrew Peabody School in North Cambridge, where we assisted in garden prep work for the spring season.

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We’ll be continuing our work with the organization in the months to come, so be sure to check our Twitter and Instagram feeds to see more of the fun and gardening action!

If you’d like to learn more about CitySprouts, please visit www.citysprouts.org or check out Ripe for Change, by CitySprouts Executive Director Jane Hirschi.

 

What Happens in London Doesn’t Stay In London

Hypnotized by the Black Keys

Beneath your feet the stands start rumbling. The stadium is hazily illuminated by hundreds of smart phone lights. Shouts are deafening and your throat is already hoarse, but you keep cheering for them to come back out.

And then it happens.

Lights burst back on as guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney walk across the stage. The crowd erupts even louder than when the pair began playing some of their most anticipated songs.

The backdrop rises to reveal the spinning hypnotic graphic of the band’s latest album, Turn Blue (Nonesuch). It’s hard to look away as Dan sings “Weight of Love,” the first song on the album.

The Black Keys’ entire performance Sunday night at the TD Garden was a mesmerizing, visual experience. At any given time the crowd witnessed up to 20 screens featuring different angles of Auerbach and Carney. Each shot was stylized with a psychedelic filter and synchronized with the crescendos and diminuendos of every song. Some screens would fade out as another would seemingly pop out of no where, giving an animated effect. As a visual communicator, I appreciate the marriage of visual and auditory performance. I did not expect it from the Black Keys despite their obvious appreciation of art (check out the album cover of Attack & Release).

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The closing song of the evening, “Black Submarine” really drove home how incredible the pairing is. Just after Dan utters “a broken heart is blind,” the stage explodes again with a medley of lights in sync with his guitar solo. I could sense awe and appreciation flooding the crowd.

The stadium (fit for over 17,000 people) had an energy akin to an intimate show, made possible by adoring fans belting out lyrics in unison and the gratitude exuded by the musicians. Dan does not talk much on stage, and even admits that he is “certainly not your typical front-man material.” He paused a few times, only to thank the Boston audience. It’s inspiring, rare and refreshing to see artists who continue to push the envelope and remain humble after so much fame and success.

 

HB Out and About in September – See you there?

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The HB team has a busy lineup of events over the next few weeks. From marketing and tech to entrepreneurialism and German innovation, we’re excited to see what each event has in store. Will we see you at any of the events listed below? Tweet at us at @hb_agency to let us know, we’d love to meet you.

September 12 – TEDxCambridge – The event that celebrates innovation within Cambridge, MA and its impact globally will have an impressive roster of speakers with expertise in research, management, science, photography and more. HB is partnering with TEDxCambridge this year so we’ll have a lot of HBers in attendance for you to meet! If you see them, feel free to say “Hi” to Todd, Catherine, Mark, Katherine, Matt, Kevin, Chuck and Christine.

September 16-18 – FutureM – Meet Amanda, Molly, Julia, Ruth, Catherine and Chuck at MITX’s FutureM. Known as the must-attend event for discovering what’s next, the event brings together marketing and technology innovators to contemplate and celebrate the future of Marketing. FutureM is about integrating traditional marketing, digital marketing, R&D, product development and all other parts of an organization that impact customer engagement and purchasing decisions.

September 16-18 – INBOUND – This year, MITX and HubSpot merged FutureM and INBOUND and lucky for us, FutureM attendees are able to attend the INBOUND keynote presentations. INBOUND is HubSpot’s annual conference, it provides marketers with inspiration, education and connections you need to transform your business. This year’s keynote speakers include Martha Stewart, Simon Sinek, Malcolm Gladwell, Guy Kawasaki, Shiza Shahid and HubSpot cofounders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

September 23 – MITXup – Meet Mark at MassChallenge where MITXup will be hosted. The hackathon matches teams of marketers with startups in two hour sessions, where the marketers are tasked with providing real time strategic and tactical marketing, communications and business development-related ideas that address specific areas of need identified by the entrepreneurs.

September 30 – Boston Young Professionals New Member Mixer  – Meet Taylor at the BYPA New Member Mixer where attendees are encouraged to network, find out what the membership is all about, meet the BYPA Board Members who will be there to answer any questions and to meet other fellow members.

September 30 – Fraunhofer USA 20th Anniversary  – Mark, Dawn and Julia will join Fraunhofer’s 20th Anniversary event, celebrating  its innovation and economic development leadership role within the clean energy, biotechnology, information systems, coatings and laser technologies, software engineering, and manufacturing industries.

Looking for other events in the Boston area this fall? Check out TUGG, VentureFizz, Greenhorn Connect, MassInno, Boston Tweetup, BostInno, Eventbrite and Meetup for more options!

HB is Proud to Support Next Week’s TEDxCambridge

14460185274_38ab8efb4f_zTEDxCambridge 2014 Fall is coming next Friday, September 12th. Tickets will sell out sometime this weekend, so now is your last chance to get your application to attend in!

I’ve had the pleasure of being part of the global TEDx community since 2011, when I signed on to help produce the inaugural TEDxSomerville here in the Boston area. Although I’m still a Somerville resident, I’ve spent a lot of time in Cambridge as well through my PR work.

When Dmitri Gunn reached out to me with his idea for a smaller, faster-paced, sustainable, high-quality revamp of the already exceptional TEDxCambridge event, I couldn’t pass up the challenge. Our first event was in September of 2013. It was an impressive event, spanning three venues (including a unique outdoor space).

The new TEDxCambridge features a unique TEDx evening event format and audience experience with an emphasis on celebrating the world-class innovation in and around Cambridge, and the impact this innovation is having globally. TEDxCambridge speaker talks have been viewed over 20 million times.

The TEDxCambridge 2014 Fall event is being hosted across four venues in Kendall Square on Friday, September 12. It will feature world-class speakers in the areas of science, photography, management, philosophy and more, followed by a gourmet reception from the area’s best local restaurateurs including Row 34, Barismo, Craigie on Main, Coppa, Journeyman, Backbar, The Salty Pig, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Puritan & Co., Mei Mei, La Brasa, The Kirkland Tap & Trotter, and Pretty Things.

TEDxCambridge is unique for its short format, high-quality reception and its Innovation Lab, which features some of the area’s top startups and technologies.

More information on the fall event is available at http://www.tedxcambridge.com/event-item/tedxcambridge-2014-fall/. Apply to attend the event at http://tedxcambridge.com/apply.

Finally, read about how HB Agency made this event possible. Hope to see you next Friday!

Everyday I’m Side Hustlin’

When my passion bubbles up and inspiration strikes – I have to create. Yet, my design style and feminist voice rarely fit our client’s needs. As a creative outlet for these bursts of happy inspiration, I am creating a blog called 90 Days of Design. Every day for the next three months, I will be sharing a drawing, image, typography piece or some other type of creation. Feel free to follow along here.

Let me make this clear: I love my job. I make a living creating things all day, every day. My responsibilities range from design to motion graphics to photography, and every day is different. My coworkers are encouraging, creative and wicked smaht; they constantly challenge me to grow as a designer.

Sometimes I just need a little something on the side.

The impetus that motivated me to share my art was the Young Women in Digital Side Hustle event on Wednesday. Passionate, intelligent and resilient women of Boston gathered at the beautiful Communispace to hear about each other’s Side Hustles. What is a Side Hustle? Your Side Hustle is your passion that pays you not in money, but in satisfaction, happiness and purpose. It’s your daily morning run, those paintings you do in your spare time, the language you’re learning or the cause you are fundraising for.

Ladies of YWD Side Hustle Event

Ladies of YWD Side Hustle Event

 

Melanie Cohn, founder of Young Women in Digital (YWD), organized this event as an opportunity for women to develop their Side Hustle into a main hustle through the aid of scholarships. Laur, one of the finalists for a Side Hustle scholarship, started The Civic Series to encourage young professionals to get together and learn about current events and issues. Another hustler, Becky Brackett created Pop & Circumstance to channel her passion for one-of-a-kind vintage decor and furniture. She rises at 4am on Sundays to make it to auctions early enough to get the gems.

Thank you YWD for sparking motivation, inspiration and empowerment in so many women. Learn more about Young Women in Digital and the Side Hustle event here.

What I learned at An Event Apart

This week, I attended An Event Apart Boston with fellow HBers Ian and Adam. The event helps bring together folks who make websites – from designers, to developers, UI practitioners, and everyone in between. I summarized some key findings from the event, including the importance of designing for humans. Have a read over on Medium.