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Navigating GSMCON2022 as an introvert

Feb 18, 2022

Contributed blog by Rhonda Simpson, Communications Specialist for the City of Dallas Office of Emergency Management and a member of the 2022 Government Social Media Conference Local Host Committee. GSMCON2022 is happening both online and in person in Dallas, Texas March 29-31. Reserve your spot now before regular registration ends on Friday, February 25, 2022!

Believe it or not, some of our Communications colleagues find coming to conferences challenging, and not in a time away from the office or cost sense.  Some of us are introverts! Or at the very least, ambiverts, straddling the line between introvert and extrovert. We need the extroverts among us to be aware and maybe help us navigate uncomfortable waters.

At the 2022 Government Social Media Conference, even though it might sound intimidating, here’s where you’ll find your support system of fellow government social media professionals — some extroverts, others introverts, many somewhere in between — who’ll be there for you long after the conference ends.

I, myself, am an ambivert. I dread going to parties, networking events, and conferences. 9 times out of 10 I have a fabulous time once I get there but making myself go through the door is tough.  I know I’m not alone. Many folks feel uneasy being a new person at a conference or are an introvert. 

Introverts, here are some tips to help break through a little bit:

  • I know it’s tough but pick a meal or networking table and just ask if the seat is taken. Or just sit down. No one will bite you – we hope. It’s not that kind of conference.
  • If an extrovert tries to adopt you and pull you into their group? LET THEM. You’ll probably have a great time. 
  • If you find other introverts, and they try to adopt you? LET THEM. You have found your tribe. 
  • Do your best to remain in the conference space as long as you can. We know that you recharge best away from other people but try to get the full experience. 

Extroverts, here are some tips to help introverts out:

  • If you see someone looking lost, offer them a seat at your table or in your session. Most of the time we just need that little encouragement. 
  • Engage with everyone at your table at networking or mealtimes, and not just the colleagues or friends you’ve come with. It’s hard to break into a conversation you’re not part of, but it’s worse to sit at a table and be what feels like being actively excluded. 
  • Don’t be too pushy, introverts are like skittish puppies, we can bolt, but do try to bring us into the fold.

Organizers? You have a part, too! If a random person comes up to volunteer to help with something, and if it’s not complicated or confidential, let them! It may be an introvert trying to come out of their shell by being useful and having a purpose.

As an ambivert, I’ve done all these things. I try to sit at a different table at each opportunity. I try to meet new people. I also feel better having a reason to be there. A reason to belong besides my job title. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes we just have to go hide for a while. And that’s okay, just don’t hide all the time.   

At GSMCON2022, there are plenty of opportunities to meet your people and put yourself out there, in a beneficial, safe way. Every day at GSMCON, make the most of your mornings! Head down to breakfast, take part in activities like the Social Media Policy Reboot, and spend free time in the expo area. Don’t forget to sign up for the Restaurant Romp at registration! You’ll go to a local restaurant with a group of your GSMCON peers and get a chance to genuinely connect and explore Dallas together.

Just remember, dear introvert, you belong here. We’re glad you’re here. We want to get to know you! There’s a lot to learn. There’s a lot to contribute. You have a lot to contribute. Thanks for signing up. Thanks for coming through the door. We’re looking forward to meeting you. 

Regular registration ends at 11:59 p.m. PT Friday, February 25! Join GSMCON2022 either in person or online by registering now before prices increase. We can’t wait to see you at GSMCON2022!

Meet the Author


   

Rhonda Simpson
Communications Specialist
City of Dallas - Office of Emergency Management 

Rhonda Simpson works with the City of Dallas Office of Emergency Management as the Communications Specialist and with the community team where she’s prepared for, responded to, and helped recover from a wide variety of events.  She’s developed a wide range of materials and programs in her time in OEM from social media to renter's insurance community education programs. She has served on and was the chair regional Public Education Committee as well as the Downtown Security Directors Association. Rhonda continues to serve on the board of North Texas PIO Group and is a member of TAMIO. She is an advocate for information accessibility and mental health in communicators and emergency managers, and is dedicated to whole community communication before, during, and after emergencies.


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