Scary? For GayNYCDad? But he is so cool and knows so many people and has so many friends!
But yes, it is scary. Certainly less so now, after seven years, but there is always that tiny part of most of us that tells us that we are not good enough, and no one wants to hang out with us.
That is why it is good to have a blog buddy. In my case it was my mentor, Linda from NYCSingleMom. Our kids were in school together and she taught me how to blog. We became fast friends, and attended conferences together. It helped to have a crutch, so that if no one else would talk to me, Linda would. And of course eat meals with me because we all know we are going to show up in the conference room for lunch and there will be no one to sit with, and if we sit alone, everyone will talk about what a loser we are.
Yes, those were the thoughts. They are much quieter now, I have a lot more confidence, but those old voices never go away completely , they just get more muted with time, and hard work.
My first conference by myself was the Dad 2.0 conference. That was really scary because I live in n NYC and work mostly with the moms. I knew I had to “grow up” in the blog world, so I took the plunge and attended my first conference without my crutch, except I had a back-up crutch, Adam from Dadarocks. Having my good buddy from NY with me in San Francisco was a help.
And the next year I had an Ambassadorship with a brand and I could always hide, I mean work, in their booth! My new crutch! I could venture out into the scary word of bloggers, and know that I had a safe place to return to if needed. But the truth is, and a large thank-you to Facebook for this, I had a lot of friends that I was in touch with throughout the year from the blog world. We read each others updates, we like each other’s status’s, we support each others social media shares, and we meet on blog trips. With that work and with time, I have gained more confidence!
You may think I have all the confidence in the world from reading my updates on the computer, but it is easy to be fearless while sitting at your computer. And I have also been consciously working on building my confidence with some tools I have learned from all of you:
- Recognize that you want to stay in your comfort zone, and then practice getting out of it. If you hear any person talking about this, use them as a way to practice talking to strangers at a conference. These are the folks that have the greatest likelihood of making you feel accepted. That positive reinforcement for leaving your comfort zone with make it easier the next time.
- Walk into the lunch area with your food and sit down at any table. The chances that all of the people already sitting there will get up and run away from you are slim to none. I did this at the recent Mom 2 Summit. I knew no one at the table. I introduced myself and said hi. Everyone responded in kind, and some of us even talked.
- If someone cannot talk to you, or can only say a few words, we might assume that they are snotty and think they are better than we are. That happens with my handsome husband all the time. The truth is, these folks may be shy and quiet (like my hubby), and a little scared themselves.
- We always assume the worst, we always think it is all about us, that we are the center of attention. Start to realize that many people feel this way and probably no one is judging us as much as we are judging ourselves, and the truth is, they are probably not thinking about us at all.
- Take a break and make a plan with someone you know. Discuss strategies for getting to know new people. There were times I told Linda that we had to sit with strangers and start a conversation as we had heard many motivational speakers tell us too. That’s how I started, branching out with a buddy, and now I am able to do this by myself.
It is not easy, and it does not come naturally for everyone. And some people use their buddy to branch out and may never do it by themselves. The bottom line is, it is at these conferences that I have heard that you have to take chances and meet new people, that you should sit with strangers and make an effort to extend yourself, and that facing your fear almost always lessens it! Your fellow bloggers “get it, ” this is a great way to practice getting bolder and more confident!
And who knows, at 58 years old, having never been the popular kid at school, this may happen!