Surviving Conventions & Events for Introverts

I’m going to FandomFest next weekend, because their literary track looks awesome. With sessions on steampunk, humor in speculative fiction, and a variety of useful topics for a noob steampunk novelist, it just makes sense. Plus, it’s in the Galt House, which is one of my favorite Louisville hotels (the Man and I went there on our 20th anniversary last year).

I’m super excited about it. John Scalzi (whose book Redshirts I just read and ADORED) is on a panel in the Beckham Room.  My maiden name is Beckham, so how cool is that? And yet…

One of the things I like least about being a social media professional is going to conventions and events.

I know! Hushyomouth, Kat!

Because I’m supposed to say things like: “The best thing about being a social media professional is getting to go to events and meet my online friends and colleagues in real life!” I’m supposed to gush about how conventions and events are a great way to really cement those connections, put a face to an @name and learn a ton. Not to mention the parties can be a lot of fun.

Which is all true, mind you.

But for an introvert/HSP, they can also be Overstimulation Ground Zero.  That’s not to say that introverted social media professionals and bloggers shouldn’t go to events. It’s often a professional necessity, and they can be invaluable professional development and networking opportunities. It’s just that we have to be 100x more strategic about it. For us, a convention is like doing one of those hypermiler races.  You’re trying to get from Chicago to Los Angeles, but instead of the winner being the person who gets there fastest, it’s the person who uses the least gas.

Extroverts get the luxury of looking forward to a convention or event like they’re planning a trip to Disneyland: prioritizing how to pack in as many cool experiences as they can. We introverts have to plan for them like we’re preparing for the Hunger Games. We’re thinking more in terms of obtaining enough resources to keep going while avoiding stuff that’ll get you wiped out

In some ways, that makes us ideal event planners. We don’t get the option of not sweating the details. Frankly, I’m a lot happier being the man behind the curtain than being tossed into the mosh pit with the revelers. It’s perhaps a little sick that I prefer working events to attending them (and I’ve done both, in my previous gig).  Purposeful action energizes me. Too much free time gives my neuroses too many opportunities to psyche me out.

When writing books and being an author was still in the Fantasy/Daydream stage for me, I admit to laboring under the delusion that authors get to hide in their nice little writing nooks, churn out prose, and avoid extraneous human contact. I was all “Hurray for the day I get a book deal! No more emotionally draining social media events!”

Aside: I think God loves it when I say things like that. It’s like I’m Gracie Allen, he’s George Burns and I’m setting up for an awesome punchline.

Then I started getting serious, making connections with working authors, and learning about the reality of modern publishing.  And discovered that if anything, authors have to do MORE conventions and events than social media professionals. Especially if self-publishing or small press publishing is in your mix.

So I’m going to FandomFest, hoping to learn a lot, and I’ll probably get lots of good fodder for this blog. I’ll probably do some socializing and networking, but I’m not going to try to fake being an extrovert. Experience has taught me all that will do is wear me out faster. I’m going to have to plan ahead, bring snacks and water, and scout out a good “quiet spot” to recharge, just like the extroverts at a social media event scout out recharging stations for their laptops and smartphones.  I’ll need to plan ahead, but I’ve learned that if I do, the rewards are worth it.

What about you? Is there something in your life that requires more effort from you than it does others? How do you think that affects your experience of that thing? Does it make you value it more than those who find it easy? Or do you feel like it’s a “necessary evil?”

7 Comments


  1. ·

    Wow Kat! We’re on the same page. I’m an introvert too, and everything in me is screaming that I should be going to blogging conventions and the like. The thought of being “social” in that way shuts me down! Yikes. I gave up a job once because it called for so much schmoozing and small talk. Like Hall and Oates said: “I can’t go for that…no can do!”

    BTW, I’m reading a really interesting book titled “Introvert Power” by Laurie Helgoe. It really has been liberating for me in terms of explaining why it’s okay to not fit in to the seemingly dominant cultural mode of extrovertism. Good stuff!

    Reply
    1. Kat French
      ·

      The Introvert Power book sounds good, Alison. I think the key to surviving conventions and events is to be strategic, and not try to fit in. The harder I try to fake being an extrovert, the faster my batteries deplete. I’m better off acknowledging that it’s a different experience for me than it is for them, and following my gut, taking lots of breaks, etc.

      Reply

  2. ·

    {{{Stomping feet}}} I wanna go. I wanna go. I wanna go. Oh well, it’s probably best that I pay my medical bills first. You’ll have a great time, Kat. I went last year and loved it. Don’t forget to seek out the celebs that are going to be there.

    Reply
    1. Kat French
      ·

      I wish you could come, too! I thought about trying to meet Bruce Campbell, but he’s going to be ridiculously swamped with people.

      Reply

  3. ·

    I love Bruce Campbell and would have stood in line for hours to meet him, but oh well. Thanks, Marian. I’ll be thinking about all of you.

    Reply
    1. Kat French
      ·

      As much as I want to stalk Bruce Campbell… Dayum, that’s gonna be a crazy long line…

      Reply

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