How to network at conferences without being awkward

Katie Dickinson
8 min readFeb 10, 2018

Big crowds at events ever make you want to do this?

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Conferences can be intimidating. They’re large, they’re loud, you’re there with hundreds (or thousands) of strangers with whom you’re expected to mingle.

But how?

In a room full of intimidating bodies dressed to the nines carrying file folders and laptops, where everyone looks like they’re some kind of expert, you’re bound to feel at least a twinge of “wouldn’t it be better if I just went back up to my room and fell asleep for a while?” And while more sleep may be a delightful option, retreating would be a silly thing to do.

Though an extrovert by nature, I’m very aware that not everyone is as at-ease in a room full of strangers as I am, and I’ve spent a bit of time self-examining to see if there are any actions/tactics you might be able to copy-cat. A common question and concern I see in blogger/travel professional groups I’m a member of is that people are worried to go to conferences because they’re too shy or too scared or (and I cringe at this one the most) too new to really get anything out of the networking parts.


I do totally understand why people think networking is a scary thing. Even as a not-shy, extrovert, I do get that initial “ugghhh, do I have to?” — but ya know what? The best thing you can possibly do is to learn to push through that sensation. I have a few easy mental prep tricks and tactics you can try when you’re on the floor and getting that uneasy feeling.

Also, I’d like to call out the, um, thousands of articles on this here world wide web that offer tips like “be personable,” “practice your elevator pitch,” and “bring business cards.” LIKE, DUH! There are so many “resources” that throw basic information and expect that you’re going to hear “stay hydrated” and all of a sudden feel perfectly prepared to stroll up to Suzy from or Marcus from OMG Cool Company.

This list is not that. BUT, if you get to the end and I’ve missed something that you struggle with, leave a comment and I’ll try to address it (or at least find you a helpful resource!)


Katie Dickinson

WTF 🌏 Katie — Enthusiast of many things. Fitness nuggets (CPT), traveler tips, food-fixated. More about me here: