You paid for the conference ticket months and months ago, taking advantage of special early bird pricing.

You booked your train and chose the cheapest hotel you could find near the conference venue which didn’t look like it had cockroaches living in it. You ordered your business cards and made sure you had something respectable to wear and some comfortable yet stylish shoes. Well alright, just comfortable. But you’re going to be in them for 3 days so comfort’s important, right?

The big day of the event is drawing ever closer and you’re starting to get nervous. You don’t know anyone there. You hate talking to strangers. You hate being cooped up with lots of people. Why did you even book this thing?!

Firstly, calm down. It’s not going to be as bad as these daytime gremlin thoughts are predicting. How do I know? Well these are pretty much the thoughts I had before I attended CMA Live in Edinburgh in June. I knew nobody. I hate networking. I didn’t much like being away from my family. I was nervous about flying, and about finding my way round in Edinburgh. I was dreading the socials. I’m not very sociable. But actually? It was the best few days I’ve had for a long time. The speakers were inspiring. The atmosphere was electric. The socials? Well let’s say I survived them. I’m not very sociable after all. But I needn’t have worried at all about not knowing anyone, or about the whole networking ‘What do you do?’ scenario. Far from being a room full of boring people talking at me it was a room full of inspiring people interested in me, my business and how we could all improve in the next year.

In a few days I will be off to another conference. Soulful PR Live is run by PR mastermind Janet Murray in conjunction with her membership group of the same name. It’s held in London so I will be catching my train and traipsing across London with my suitcase from Marylebone to Shoreditch. Having done my homework I’ve connected with some of the delegates in a Facebook Group and on Twitter, so even though I’ve never met them in real life I should be able to recognise them and know a little about their businesses. I’m still slightly dreading talking to a room full of people I don’t know, it just isn’t me, but I’ve proved I can do it.

And so can you. Connect with fellow delegates before the event on Twitter or wherever they hang out, and build a relationship. Make yourself familiar with routes and timings so that you have less to stress about on the day. Prepare what Janet Murray calls a 10 word top line saying exactly what you do, simply, clearly and without jargon. I say that I help businesses with social media strategy and management. Take a deep breath and walk in to that venue with a smile on your face, and start talking to someone. It’s all going to get better from that point. And in a few day’s time you’ll be blogging about how great it has been for your business and wondering what all the fuss was about.

Soulful PR Live is being held on 13 – 14 July in London.

CMA Live 2018 is being held in June 2018 and tickets are already on sale/wait list.

If you would like to read about CMA Live you can do that here.

Janet Murray has some great tips for not sucking at networking here.