02 May 2014

Genealogy conferences and the introvert ...

My personal mantra for during the NGS conference
via Marrz13

Next week is the NGS 2014 Family History Conference in Richmond ...

Many of us are preparing to descend on Richmond and talk all that is genealogical.

For some, like me, it’s also preparing for what “can be” a stressful experience – being constantly surrounded by lots (and I mean lots) of people. 

I know that some of you are like “what?”  How can you find a conference stressful?  You give lectures in front of large crowds at conferences!  You write a blog for NGS!  You write articles for magazines!  You’ve held many genealogy society positions! 

Yes, that and more “public involvement” is all true.  By nature though, I am a loner, a researcher, and a person who prefers small group settings.  That’s just who I am.  I work out of a home office and consider the NC Archives and State Library of NC my “office away from home” where every week for parts of two days I get my people fix interacting with the wonderful staff.

I am also someone who can be terrible with the names of the living (I’m great at remembering faces and voices and not so good with names), yet, I can remember the names of the dead I research at the drop of a hat including names researched years-and-years ago for my clients. 

To give you a sense of my unease – a few years ago when I was taking my daughter to the NC Archives and State Library of NC to help me with some research, a few days before, I made a list of everyone who works there that we might meet so that I could make sure that their names were fresh on my brain so that I could introduce them to my daughter successfully.  I was so worried about stumbling ...

As far at the giving lectures part – that is all performance!  I just find my “inner” extrovert (and there is one who actually loves to come out for about 4 hours at a time and be passionate about genealogy research topics) and have a blast for the duration of the talk and Q&A.  Then, I disappear, often into the exhibitors hall so I can wander aimlessly, or chat with those I know well, and recharge my engines.

The same holds for the non-lecture part of conferences -- I honestly love chatting with people about genealogy! It is my passion and being surrounded by like-minded individuals (my husband does not share this interest at all) is so refreshing and energizing.  Though, recognize that for an introvert it can be exhausting to be "on" for a whole day (breakfast to dinner) and so if you see me wandering about aimlessly, I'm probably just enoying a bit of "down time."

What does this mean for next week?

If you are like me or you come across someone like me, please keep the following in mind:
  •  Do make sure that you have your name tag on!  Odds are that we will feverously be trying to read it which gets harder and harder with each passing year.  Is the type smaller or my eyes worse?  That is a rhetorical question as we all know the answer to that!
  • Even if we have been FB friends for eons, don’t assume that I’ll connect your face with your FB photo with your name.
  • Speaking of being friends – please consider downloading the NGS Conference Mobile App and do put a photo as part of your information.  Trust me, I will be studying that each day before the conference to try and connect faces with names especially for people I’ve only met once or twice.  Feel free to friend me (Diane Richard) in advance or as we meet, feel free to help me find you on the app and immediately friend you! 
  • If after we initially meet you find me looking a bit glassy-eyed, it might be that I am constantly repeating your name in my head so that I don’t forget it.  I really do feel the need to try and remember your name and for someone not good at that, it can be stressful.  Please do hand me a business card, please do connect with me via the mobile app (see item above) or please do drop me an e-mail to re-affirm that we connected, [email protected].
  • When you approach me, I will always greet you kindly and warmly though possibly not remember exactly how I know you.  Please feel free to remind me of “how” I know you, especially if I don’t greet you by name! 
  • Please don’t make me feel bad if I don’t remember your name the 2nd or 3rd times our paths cross.  It will happen – you can either make us embarrassed about it or laugh good naturedly with us about it.

I (and I think other introverts) honestly do enjoy meeting and chatting with people once we get past the initial (and often awkward) introduction phase.  After that, it’s all genealogy ... right?  What’s not to love once we get chatting about our common love for researching ancestors!  Who we are, in a way, just disappears.  We become what we chat about!

I know that there are people who are great with all of this!  They seem to remember the name of every person they have ever met and they are also so friendly and engaging and welcoming to anyone – they have the art of social chit chat down.  Because of this large groups (like a conference) are very energizing for them.  I am envious of their ease in social settings and if you are one of these people, don’t be surprised if you find me “lurking” as you interact with large groups.  It’s my way to be part of the group and yet not the instigator of one.

So, when you meet up with me, please just understand that I am an introvert who for 3.5 days will pretend to be an extrovert.  Please do seek me out – I would love to talk with you!  If you can’t find me, stop by the NGS booth in the exhibitors hall (I like to spend time there as it calms me), drop me a message via the friends feature on the mobile app (Diane Richard) or drop me an e-mail at [email protected] about meeting.

I look forward to seeing you’all in Richmond!

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