5 tips for managing introvert energy at live events

I’m attending a business retreat this weekend with a small, eclectic group of entrepreneurs. We’re going deep, facing blocks and (literally) burning them. We’re challenging the ways in which we’ve run our businesses.
This is tiring work for any entrepreneur, but as an introvert, one of my personal challenges is managing my energy at live events.

I worried about maximizing my effectiveness.

I worried about missing something important.

I worried I wouldn’t meet enough people.

The anticipation, adrenaline and intensity to maintain my energy would knock me back. Not surprisingly, I’d often get sick after returning home.

Well, it took awhile, but I finally gave myself permission to take care of myself. Self-care, what a concept, right?

Here are a few tips I’ve learned the hard way about introvert self-care and managing energy levels when I’m at a live event:

  1. Have a nice place to retreat. I prefer a quiet room close to the venue so I can easily and comfortably hide out.
  2. If my hotel room isn’t close to the venue, I scout out parks, churches, libraries, museums, bookstores and other quiet corners where I can take a break. This is easier than you think. Getting out of the event space, or “getting some fresh air” can make the difference between making it the whole time or burning out at the end of the first day.
  3. I review the schedule and see where I can create spaciousness for myself to have a quiet moment. If it’s a large conference, you have permission not to attend every minute of it. You have permission not to “work it” every second you are there. I find I’m more present at the portions I do choose to attend, and at the same time relieved I’m not expending energy on things which aren’t as valuable to me. In a more intimate setting, it’s harder to bow out of a particular session. Take advantage of breaks. If you do miss something, you can use it as a conversation starter, “Hi, I missed So-and-so’s presentation. What did you think? What did you get out of it?” Anything more sensational will generate buzz. Listen and you’ll pick it up.
  4. I’m selective about who I agree to meet and when. I do pre-conference sleuthing and find out who is attending. I’ll make initial connections via email or social media. Anyone attending live events knows at some level there won’t be enough time to meet everyone. This limitation can work for us introverts. People miss seeing each other all the time at gatherings. So, you have permission to connect with as few or as many people as you want. You have permission not to attend all social events without guilt. I let myself stay open to spontaneous gatherings, depending on who I meet. That said, I opt out and wish everyone a great time and follow up later.
  5. As much as I would like to plan and prepare, ultimately, I need to stop and check in with my personal energy barometer. Do I need a short respite? Or is it time to call it a day? How can I take care of this? Not listening to calls for rest costs me so much more later. Acknowledge what you need, whether you end up pushing through, take a few moments for yourself, or head back to your retreat.