You will undoubtedly hear a lot of advice next weekend. You may hear terms mentioned casually that you’ve never heard before and have a hard time wrapping your mind around.
You will learn so much. You might even get overwhelmed.
The sponsors will give you some of their stuff, and who doesn’t like free stuff?
But the point of this conference, more than any other, is to make connections. Turn “people who I admire” into “people who are my friends.” Tell someone you like the way they write, but only if you mean it. Seek others out. Don’t be intimidated.
After all, you’re here. At the FinCon. You have the right to be here, just like anyone else. Even the people you see on stage. Even the people with legendary stories. They’re all just people, and most of them know the difference between famous and famous-on-the-internet. You’ll be surprised at how normal, even fun, these personalities are.
That said, sometimes it’s hard to meet people you only know on the internet. Here are five tips to help you make genuine connections:
- Lead with “hello”. There’s no reason you need to say anything else. Don’t psych yourself up too much, just say hi, introduce yourself, and if you want, tell the person you’re meeting that you really like what they have to say about x,y, or z.
- Don’t interrupt. If the person you’d like to say hi to is in the middle of a conversation, try not to channel your inner five-year-old. FinCon is long, and you’ll get another chance.
- Don’t pitch. You can trade business cards if you want, but if you have an idea about collaboration, let that come about naturally, and don’t pitch your idea in the first few seconds of meeting someone.
- Be confident. I promise, you are not small by comparison to anyone. I had a hard time with this last year, and ended up being kind of weird to some of the “famous-on-the-internet” people I met. Don’t use “just” when someone asks how long you’ve been blogging.
- Follow up when you get home. Go through that stack of business cards, say hi again, and talk to your new friends on any platform you choose. In fact, start a Twitter group. Call it “FinConFriends” and interact with people once you get home. Make sure to add @frugalportland to that list.
Listen. Just be yourself, don’t be scared, and don’t be surprised that you’re making friends. I had to be talked into coming to FinCon12 in Denver, and it was one of the best decisions I made all year. I went home knowing that there’s something special about this community, and it doesn’t have anything to do with picking the right investments or “best” get-out-of-debt strategy.
It’s about the connections. The friends you will make along the way. I hope you have a really nice time here this weekend, and if you can, come say hi.
Kathleen O’Malley is the creator of the personal finance and frugal living blog, Frugal Portland, where she writes about fun, frugal things to do in her hometown of Portland, Oregon as well as ways to make the most of our short time here on the planet.