In case you don’t read any other blog except Eyes on the Dollar, you might not know that the financial bloggers all congregated last week in St. Louis for Fincon 13. I was fortunate enough to be there. If you’ve already read 500 Fincon summaries and can’t stand to read another one, don’t gouge your eyes out yet (that’s hard to fix). I think my takeaways can apply to just about any social situation, even if you aren’t a blogger.
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone
Speaking for myself and many of the bloggers I met last week, we are not work the crowd type people. Although I have a day job and interact with the public, I am not good in crowds, and I’m terrible at starting conversations.
If you have this personality, the more you avoid social situations, the worse it gets. I have to force myself to stay in public rather than retreating to my hotel room, and I did that for most of Fincon. I’m proud that I met so many great people.
Don’t Try Too Hard When Meeting New People
I went to the very first session at the beginning of Fincon, and it was a talk about how to meet your favorite bloggers given by Agatha K, the sweaty armpit girl. I actually rode down in the elevator with her before the talk. While you’d never notice it watching her speak, she was nervous, even while rocking a leopard print mini dress and carrying puppets. It just goes to show you that even people who seem to have it all together still get butterflies.
I really tried to take her advice to heart. Be yourself. Don’t stalk people. Make sure you don’t have food in your teeth, and don’t try too hard. If you are at a trade conference, odds are the people attending share some common ground. You don’t have to say 800 words per minute. Just introduce yourself and let things flow from there. I find it surreal that I had a conversation about adults wearing braces with J.D. Roth, but I’m sure that was much better than gushing to him about how cool I think he is.
Attending a conference in your area of expertise is a great way to get fired up about what you do. Doing online work can be really lonely, so it’s great to see what others are doing and find new ways to get excited about your work.
Now that we’ve established common ground, these are the things I did at Fincon 13 to step outside my comfort zone.
Share the Love
I realize that I would have probably spent more time in my room without a roommate. Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff was nice enough to let me share with her the first night. She was one of the reasons I started blogging, so it was really nice to meet her, even if she was only in the room for about 5 hours to sleep!
For the rest of the conference, I shared with Mrs. PoP from Planting our Pennies. While I’m sure she is a bit disturbed by my hair and feet grooming habits, I think we have quite a bit in common, and we got along well.
You know you are in a good community when you find yourself with three people you just met in a small pod-like capsule, contained in steel and cement, going to the top of a giant arch. I’d like to thank Kathleen from Frugal Portland, Carrie from Careful Cents, Sofia from Caviar and Quarters, and a random New Zealand tourist for making that trip memorable.
Game Show Contestant
Somehow, I ended up as a contestant on the first ever Fincon Game Show put on by MoneyPlan SOS. You can listen to the podcast here. My fellow contestants were Lena from What Mommy Does, Lauren from L Bee and the Money Tree, and Paula from Afford Anything. While I didn’t win, I am pleased that I knew that it was Wimpy that said “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.”
It was really great see so many people that I kind of knew from their blogs but had never met in person. I won’t list them all, but you know who you are. For anyone considering Fincon 14 or any type of even that requires networking, I strongly encourage you to get over your fears and just go. The worst that could happen is that you make a fool out of yourself, but at least people will remember you!
How have you gone outside of your comfort zone? Was it helpful?