The first thing is getting over the fact that a ton of people are at the conference, which means that there is an unspoken expectation to socialize. The easiest way to conquer that part of the introvert personality is to volunteer. At ISTE 2013 in San Antonio I volunteered to gain a back stage look at what ISTE was supposed to be all about. However, as a volunteer, I was able to get over talking to others by having the answers to the many questions that other attendees had, similar to my questions at my first experience in 2012. I gained confidence in meeting others because we were all volunteering for the same reasons.
The other way to get beyond the socialization expectation is to get involved with a ISTE Commuity based on your educational passions. Each group has a meetup at some point during the conference and also get together in the PLN spaces set up throughout the convention center. When you get there, keep in mind that it is OK to lurk until you find your conversation niche. Then go for it.
Other options to get beyond the socialization expecation are attending the First-Timer Booth during the Networking Fair, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. There is also the Welcome Celebration from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday. Here you will get to network with other 1st timers or Introvert educators while enjoying small bites and beverages. Then there are the Morning Meet-ups where attendees get an opportunity to talk about what sessions they’re going to and hear about the opportunities of the day. This event is held at the Member Lounge from 7:45 to 8:15 a.m daily.
WHAT ABOUT SESSIONS?
Attend Session Based on your passions. Now the catalog is already overwhelming, but is very well organized. So map out your plan early and try to make it as diverse as possible. Look for different delivery methods on the same topic to help you find your own platform. Use the ISTE app to create your schedule each day. However, take the opportunity to tweak your plan daily based on what you have already seen. Sometimes, the sessions cover much more than advertise and may eliminate the need to attend a session you planned on for the next day.
Hangout at the playground, poster sessions and the Blogger’s cafe in between sessions. This provides a chance to interact with ideas, tools, and other attendees around a common passion. Usually, the demonstrations provides answers to questions that you may have had or simply encourage you to ask. This is a great way to connect as well.
If you are attending with a team, divide and conquer if you can and use a shared note taking platform like OneNote, Google Hyper Docs, Padlet, etc. This helps you be everywhere at once.
Take some time to get by yourself and write, record or reflect. There is so much to take in but you need some time to digest it all. Schedule some time alone to prevent information overload. Don’t be afraid of missing out on something; that is inevitable. So take care of yourself first and make the other moments matter. Naps are always good!
Lastly, Share out what you have learned. No matter how small or large the idea is, put your thoughts, concerns, questions and ideas out for others to add to. Get connected on Twitter or Voxer or whatever platform you are comfortable with and see what others say. When you see others adding on to the conversation, or answering the questions, or affirming their own concerns and beliefs, the ISTE experience is much more rewarding.
Then you will find yourself wanting to learn more and attend more and share more. That’s how you begin to Win Others Over.