This BLOG post was originally published on March 10, 2008 but is still applicable for those of you headed to SXSW in 2012. So I figured I would pull it out, dust it off and repost it in hopes that it might help one or two of you not miss an opportunity to connect better during this year's festivities.
Do you ever feel alone in a crowd? I know that I sure do. In going to some SXSW Interactive Conference festivities yesterday, I know that found myself feeling lost in a sea of people and I was the odd man out having forgot my "fitting in" life vest. But then I remembered, I knew how to swim without it.
I literally had to remind myself that a new connection is likely never to be made unless I personally do something about it. That meant that I knew I needed to consciously pull myself out of my naturally introverted shell and make an effort. Otherwise the sea of people, the crashing waves of conversation and the turbulent energy of all the goings on around me would leave me stranded on the beach of "loneliness and could have been."
Easier said that done right?
Heck I wrote an entire book on this stuff and I still find myself wanting to retreat into my shell when faced with hoards of people I don't know. Connecting can be at times....scary. But people, trust me when I say....it is so worth it.
They say the first step to recovery is to first recognize that you have a problem; then do something about it. For me that meant reminding myself nothing happens in a vacuum - you need to connect with others in order for something cool, good, profitable (take your pick on description here) on happening. I anchored myself with both a deep breath, remembered to smile, opened my mouth and simply started talking to people. And you know what? Once I made that first connection that connection introduced me to someone else, then I met someone else and so my afternoon went. Until I had met more people than I could remember and found myself smiling inwardly as I recognized I was no longer alone in a crowd and my dog paddle was replaced with a comfortable buoyancy that allowed me to float seamlessly amongst the sea of people.
It felt good.
So whether you are at SXSW, attending that Chamber of Commerce Luncheon (watch out for the powdered eggs and rubber chicken!) or simply meandering your way over to the company coffee pot...reach out and connect with someone today. You might just find that like me, you no longer are alone in a crowd but part of it. And who knows what that might just bring to you.