I am an introvert and creature of habit. Everything in my home has purpose and a place to go, a structured schedule gives me life, and I’m in my element when alone.
“I have to be alone very often. I’d be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That’s how I refuel.”Audrey Hepburn – source
Let’s face it. The title of this blog post sounds like the opening of a pretty bad joke. However, that’s really what my mother and I are like among a crowd of people. I get my introversion from her. You wouldn’t believe it if you knew everything we’re involved in. Volunteering, working in retail, and coordinating projects are just a few examples. I’d call us “high functioning introverts.”
Two weeks ago mom mentioned she had to go to Delaware through a non-profit we both volunteer with and I went as her travel buddy. “I’ve never been to Delaware,” I said. “Let’s go!” The event was the Christian Product Expo, and my mom helps out with ordering and making connections for the non-profit.
I mainly wanted to go to interact with the publishers – Harper Collins, Barbour Publishing and DaySpring, just to name a few – and see what books they showcase at this kind of event. However, as soon as we stepped into that conference hall both our hearts dropped.
There were so. Many. People.
Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit here, but with five rows of vendors and publishers, we knew we needed to regroup and make a game plan for the day.
“I think a lot, but I don’t say much.”Anne Frank – source
Mom and I manage to get through two rows before we’re mentally exhausted. Cue information overload. I can’t imagine traveling around with any conference or expo for a living. So we took a break and spent the rest of the afternoon chilling in the lobby. She went over booklets, contacts and the like while I worked on this blog post.
I must say that I’m proud of myself for gathering the courage to talk with the reps from the publishers that really interested me. I got just three business cards, but I discovered who carries the books of one of my favorite authors of fairy tale retellings – Melanie Dickerson! That made it easier to connect over books and hopefully opened the door for future contact. I’m getting ahead of myself here….
The Lessons Learned
Neither my mom nor I knew what to expect going into an event like this. That’s what daunted us the most about the experience. Here’s what I learned.
- Do Your Research – find out what publishers are looking for, who they represent, and read those books before going to an event. It’ll help conversation flow and show them you know the market. This is something I need to start working on!
- You Are Not Alone – you’re wrong if you think you’re the only introvert walking into that expo or conference. Don’t sell yourself short either – you’ve got props for just showing up! Yes, there are folks who’ve done things like this far longer, but most are extremely helpful.
Two introverts walked into a conference and came out feeling a bit more confident in themselves. “We did it!” Mom and I both said. We didn’t cover all the booths, but it was, overall, a really good learning experience. I don’t know if we’ll attend again in the future, but now I know at least some of the etiquette that comes along with it. Don’t pressure yourselves into thinking you must do it all and meet all the people.
Just let you shine through.