Conquering an Introvert’s Fear of Conference

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by Missy Tippens

By Missy Tippens

The ACFW conference is fast approaching, and I know some may be first time attendees. And others may be looking forward to it but are worried or nervous. I suspect a lot of writers are introverts, and I know quite a few who are. And then we go to conferences to network and force ourselves to try to be extroverted, when what we might want to do is run to our rooms to hide! 🙂

Are you an introvert? Don’t know if you are? Well, if you’re in a group of people, does it tend to drain you or energize you? If being in a crowd seems to zap your energy, then you may be an introvert.

But I have some suggestions and tips from what I’ve learned over the years to help make conference going more relaxing, less stressful. So fr om one introvert to another…

–First off, take heart. You’re not alone. There are others in your situation. It can do a world of good if you look outside yourself and have compassion on someone else who looks totally lost or overwhelmed. As an older woman in a former church used to say, “You have to be a friend to have a friend.” So take time to reach out to others.

–Conferences are great opportunities and can be truly fun. So pace yourself. Look ahead at the schedule and plan some down time in your room where it’s quiet. Time to rest and regroup. Time to pray.

–Plan to spend time with friends. There are so many great opportunities at conference—workshops, appointments, networking at meals. But taking time to socialize with friends can help relieve stress and can even lead to opportunities to meet new people. And if you don’t really know anyone yet, then sit in the lobby and watch for others you can meet. And if I’m there, come say hi to me! 🙂

–At one of the first conferences I attended (a local conference), I was a major wallflower. I was literally standing against a wall, scared to death I would meet an editor or agent and commit some big faux pas. I gripped my Coke like a life line and tried to look as if I wasn’t sweating bullets. Then a kind author came and spoke to me. I admitted I was very nervous, and she told me she had made herself a rule: She had to me et 4 new people at every conference. She suggested I try it. So I did. And each conference got easier until now I enjoy meeting new people. So give it a try! Challenge yourself to meet 4 new people at the ACFW conference.

–Do you find you want to attend a workshop (or 2!) every single session, and you’re getting overwhelmed or worn out? Then give yourself permission to sit some out, and go buy the recordings so you won’t miss out on the great teaching.

–Set some reachable goals. If you don’t, you might get home and want to kick yourself over missed opportunities. At my first national writers’ conference many years ago, I made one goal. Only one. To meet Steeple Hill editor Melissa Endlich in person. At the time, she had a submission from me on her desk, and I wanted her to be able to put a face with a name. Well, the conference venue and attendance were huge. And I went through that whole week, attending workshops and spotlights where I thought she might be. But I never was able to get close to her! Then finally, on the last day of conference, I ran into her in a publisher spotlight. My attention zoomed in, and I made sure I got across that room as quickly as I could when the session was over! LOL Mission accomplished! I felt a sense of satisfaction that I had done what I set out to do.

The ACFW conference is an amazing conference with such an atmosphere of fellowship. Don’t let your introverted self m ake you miss out. You can step a little out of your comfort zone and have a fantastic time. So try to relax, have fun and accomplish all your goals. I know there have to be more tips out there for introverts. Y’all jump in and share!

Missy Tippens has a story included in Blessings of Mossy Creek, published by BelleBooks. After ten years of pursuing her dream, she made her first sale of a full-length novel to Steeple Hill Love Inspired. She still pinches herself to see if it really happened! Her debut novel, Her Unlikely Family, was a February 2008 release and is now available in large print from Thorndike. His Forever Love was a June 2009 release from Love Inspired and will be followed by A Forever Christmas in November 2009. Missy is thrilled and honored to be a 2009 Book of the Year finalist!

You can find Missy at www.missytipp or

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