I have a gift for you. I am going to skip talking about the 5Ps this week and focus on how to take care of yourself at events.
Last week, I attended the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston. That’s what I want to talk about.
I don’t want to share what I learned and took away from a marketing perspective, but rather from a human perspective – which in my opinion is just as important.
It was my first in-person event since February 2020. The last time I traveled was in January 2020 when I flew to France to speak, and then in February 2020 when I did a session at UMass Boston.
Needless to say, I was anxious and out of practice. I know I’m not alone there. It was the first in-person event for a lot of the attendees, not just me. We all had to figure out how to navigate our own personal safety protocols, remember how and when to approach people, and most importantly enjoy ourselves.
But it was exhausting. I’m an introvert and prior to the pandemic, in-person events exhausted me. I was talking with a friend at dinner and he was sharing how excited he was to be back in person because he gets energized from being around people. I told him that I was envious because I’m the opposite in every way. He said that for someone like him, the pandemic was especially hard because he never experienced real isolation and loneliness until then. That was hard to hear and I was excited that he was excited to be among the masses again.
I arrived Tuesday night at the hotel, found my tribe to have dinner with, and then went to bed about three hours later than I usually do. The next day I got up around 5:30 am to do some yoga, shower, and get ready. After making my way down to the event floor Chris and I got ready to teach a workshop for the next eight hours. Yes, you read that right. Once we finished the workshop, I went back up to my room for a quick break before heading back down for a mixer and then dinner. Once again, talking with people for a couple of hours, caught up with new and old friends, and then went to bed way later than I usually do. During this entire time, there were people talking to me and around me. I was present in conversations while also taking in everything else that wasn’t the same four walls of my home office. It was a lot. Most days I am alone in my house with my dog while my husband is at work. It’s quiet. Very quiet. It’s what I’m used to and what I enjoy.
By the time Thursday rolled around, I was spent. There were still two full days left of the event and I was still signed on to speak one more time on Friday. I needed a break. I needed to go home. So I did. Now, I had the luxury of living in the same state as the event and Massachusetts is not very big. I was able to spend the evening with my family, wake up in my own bed, and get ready in my own house. I then headed back to the event to catch up with my friends and then speak one more time.
You might be wondering what the point of me telling you this is. Well, here’s the point. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, navigating the real world again can be hard. It can be hard in the best of times, and it’s hard now with so much uncertainty floating around us.
The point, and what I learned, is that it’s ok to say no. It’s ok to bow out, take a break, and go home. It’s ok to know your limits, to shut down, to turn off. I learned that I don’t have the physical and emotional stamina to be around large crowds the way that I used to. I would get fatigued prior to 2020 at in-person events, but it’s worse now. I equate it to endurance training. You have to do it all the time to keep your physical strength. If you take two years off from training, your performance will suffer and you’ll have to build back to where you were. That’s where I’m at now. My stats have gone down and I have to build them back up.
I share this with you because, at the end of the day, you are all that matters. You have to put your needs first. If you work for a company that sets expectations about your event experience and how many new connections you’d be making, make sure that those expectations align with your own reality. Be sure to build in breaks if you know you’ll need them. Build them in even if you don’t think you’ll need them.
As you re-enter the world of in-person events don’t forget to take care of yourself. You might be a little rusty and that’s ok, we all are.
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