Getting the Most from the ACT Conference When You are an Introvert

I am not a Type A personality. In fact, I’d much rather be sitting behind my desk at the office than attending a conference with thousands of people. Yet, like you, I realize the importance of attending and networking at conferences – not only are you there representing your company and your product/service, your take-aways are invaluable. You’ll meet new people; potential colleagues, new resources and gain new ideas from the workshops and from talking with other attendees and exhibitors.

Dharmesh Shah, CTO at HubSpot published an article last year, which is relevant today.
I hope you find this article helpful. If you want to connect at ACT this year, feel free to reach out – send me an email or text me at the conference. I hope to see you there.
Text: 360-2815589

Between one-third and one-half of the people in the world are introverts.
Keep in mind being introverted doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy (although you certainly may be.) Shyness is a lack of comfort in social settings and a fear of social judgment.
Introversion has more to do with how you respond to stimulation, where you draw your energy, and how you recharge that energy. Extroverts crave stimulation; introverts feel most alive and capable in quieter, low-key environments.
Neither is good or bad; they’re just different. The key is to recognize the difference so you can put yourself in what Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking calls your “zone of stimulation.” If you’re an introvert, your zone of stimulation tends to be a quiet, private place.
Back to the “quiet and privacy” thing.
Unfortunately, quiet and privacy tend to be in short supply during the high-energy, action-packed social swirl of a professional conference.
So how do you not just survive but maximize your conference experience if you’re an introvert? The key is to do a little planning (something introverts naturally do well), take the right approach, and most importantly play to your strengths as an introvert:
1. Proactively schedule quiet “recharging” time.
Conferences are typically packed with action: Sessions, seminars, meetings, breakouts, meetups… lots of “on” time that creates a serious energy drain for an introvert.
Extroverts typically draw energy from others, while introverts typically recharge their own mental and emotional batteries. So schedule some down time into your day to help you recharge. (Susan calls those periods “restorative niches.”)
Plan to take a quiet walk, or retreat to your room for thirty minutes, or to read materials that help you prepare for a later session.
Whatever you do, just find a way that works for you to disconnect from other humans and let yourself recharge. That way you’ll stay fresh. And if you’re worried you’ll miss something…
2. Tips For Recharging At A Session
This is going to sound a little strange, but it's actually possible to recharge while attending a session.
Here's how I do it:
Pick a keynote session where you know the audience will be relatively large. (Since your goal is to disconnect from humans, you'll find that a larger audience creates a less intimate setting — perfect in which to withdraw and be alone).
Come into the session just a minute or so before it's scheduled to start. This minimizes the chances you'll have to engage in conversation (people are much less likely to talk to you once a speaker is on stage).
Find a quiet area (if it's not a packed room). Don't sit too close to the front (because that creates a certain intimacy with the speaker — and you're looking to be a bit more removed). I tend to prefer the back row — but this often back-fires based on the size of the room. Frustratingly, sometimes people in the back row insist on trying to have a conversation during a talk. I hate that.
Once you're comfortably seated — pull out the laptop. In a large keynote, that's not rude — in fact, these days, it's often expected and encouraged. Tweet comments and quotes from the session. This has a dual advantage: First, it gives you a chance to be heads-down into the talk — and much less likely that anyone will approach you. Second, and more importantly, by tweeting during the session, you'll find you make some connections to people (that are also tweeting). In every keynote, there are usually a handful of people that are tweeting, and you'll find yourself giving a virtual nod and hat-tip to a few of them. When I live-tweet sessions, I almost always feel this connection to one or two people — who I then recognize at some other time during the conference. Makes it much easier to just say hello.
3. Try Inbound Networking.
Introverts tend to work well alone and in small, familiar groups. If that’s you, it may be against your nature to actively create new connections – even if those connections could be incredibly beneficial.
So put your planning skills to work. Determine the people you want to meet and connect ahead of time online. Send a quick note saying you look forward to seeing that person at the conference. That way you get plenty of time to craft your “message” and make it perfect… and later you can simply walk up and say, “Hi, I’m Dharmesh – it’s really great to meet you in person!”
Another approach: Write a blog post that identifies a list of people you'd love to connect with at the conference. As an example, see my post “Inbound Networking: 42 People I Want To Connect With At SxSW”. This has several advantages: First, without fear, it helps you identifywho you'd love to meet — and why. Second, you might find that some of those people actually come across your blog post and reach out to you (Internet FTW!). Third, though you may not make a direct connection — you may have friends/readers that know these people and volunteer to make an introduction.
The power of this inbound networking approach is that you don't have to interrupt anyone. Connections happen organically. And, in the unlikely event that you don't connect with any of the people on your list — what was the harm?
Everyone needs great connections. Create a plan that ensures you can meet the people you most want or need to meet.
4. Ask for introductions through others.
You want to meet someone you didn’t know ahead of time you wanted to meet, but walking up alone and “cold-meeting” a stranger is tough.
Standing beside a friend while she introduces you to someone new is much easier, because it allows her take care of the preliminaries: “Ann, I’d like you to meet my friend Dharmesh. He’s the CTO of a marketing software company in Boston.”
Everyone you already know knows at least one person you want or need to know. The best connections are often made through colleagues and mutual acquaintances. Ask for “referrals” from people you respect and provide them for people you respect – and go out of your way to provide them for friends and colleagues who could use the hand.
5. Attend at least one session you wouldn’t normally attend.
We all tend to gravitate towards the people and information that validates our own perspectives and points of view. It’s more comfortable – and potentially less contentious or confrontational – to mingle with people who share our beliefs and outlooks.
So if you attend a conference with multiple speakers and a menu of sessions, for every two sessions you choose that sound interesting, pick one session that you wouldn’t normally attend. Purposely step outside your comfort zone. Commit ahead of time to acting on at least one approach or strategy that you learn; that way you’ll listen constructively instead of critically.
Then talk to someone on the way out. Say, “You know, I walked in here thinking I wouldn’t get anything out of (whatever topic)… but I was surprised by…” That’s all you need to say to start a great conversation, because people love talking to people who have seen their particular light.
6. Create plans for maximizing your return.
Many people return from a conference with a bag full of schwag and a notebook full of scribbled ideas, thought-starters, and takeaways. A couple days later the bag is in a closet, the notebook is in a drawer… and it’s back to business as usual.
That’s especially true for the introvert who comes home drained and exhausted; by the time you recharge your batteries, your great ideas and new perspectives may have been lost.
This is one of the ways your need for quiet time can be a real advantage. Use your quiet time to think about and plan how you will maximize your return on the people you’ve met, the ideas you’ve embraced, and the knowledge you’ve gained.
A conference can be a great experience, but it shouldn’t just be an experience – it should, in ways large and small, be life changing. Use your quiet time to make concrete plans for how you will actually change your life.
I'd suggest blocking out a half day on your schedule immediately after the conference. Devote it to “absorbing” some of your thoughts and learnings and coming up with a way to apply them. Yes, yes, I know — you already spent 3 days away from the office, and there are a hundred emails waiting for you. But, that 4 hours will be some of the highest leverage time you ever spend. And, as it turns out, those emails will still be waiting for you. In short, just block out the time when you're planning for the conference — just pretend the conference is longer than it is.
Speaking of blocking out time, for introverts, somewhat longer conferences (3–4 days) are usually easier than shorter conferences. The reason is that with a longer conference, you have time to “settle in”, know your environment — and start getting to know some people and faces. With a 1 or 2 day conference, by the time any of that happens, you're heading back out again.
7. Gear up for when you’ll need the most energy.
Maybe you’re leading a seminar. Maybe there’s a social gathering with key customers and you’ll need to be especially “on.” Maybe there’s a user group session where you need to interact and totally engage.
Plan ahead. Schedule a recharge period immediately before. Go to a session where you know you’ll only have to listen. Have a quiet lunch instead of a group meal. Every session, every event, every meeting is important… but some are more important than others. Make sure you have the mental and social energy you need when you need it most.
8. Always, always do what you do best.
Most introverts are great listeners, especially in one-on-one settings. Use that skill to your advantage. Listen. Ask insightful questions. Ask a person how they did what they did. Or why. Or what they learned from doing it, or liked about doing it. Asking real questions – and paying attention to the answers – is one of the greatest compliments you can give.

And it’s one of the best ways to make real connections – and real friends."


Social media will continue to be a key influence in the hiring decision, not only do companies use social media to vet candidates, they also use it to find and surface potential employees.
 consciously or unconsciously, We are ALL prejudice and we all carry our own bias, and that fact is not going to go away no matter how much we try to legislate it or “peer pressure” it away. It’s reality part of being human.  In my opinion, the best thing you can do about your social media content is “manage” it. Manage your profiles and conversations. Employ common sense. Know that people can view your Facebook, LinkedIn, and twitter conversations – no matter how many “privacy” buttons you have turned on. Keep that in mind when you want to post a Facebook rant about your employer or your drunken night at the local pub.  

This is an interesting article worth continued discussion.


Interview "What is your greatest Weakness"

At job interviews, particularly when young people are involved, the applicant is frequently asked: "What is your greatest weakness?"
This is a rude, intrusive question, and nobody should be required to answer it. It is a trick question designed to put the applicant at a disadvantage. It is just one step up from "When did you stop beating your wife? I mean, your partner. Let me rephrase that: When did you stop beating your significant other?"

Nishant Choski
From Queenan: "What's my greatest weakness?" is un-American to ask.
For starters, the presumption that people have weaknesses is un-American. It is defeatist and sad. The whole point of being American is to feel invincible, that one is incapable of being improved upon. Just ask Jamie Dimon. Or Barack Obama. This isn't Albania we're running here.
Imagine asking George Washington or Susan B. Anthony, "What is your greatest weakness?" What kind of an answer do you think you would get out of George Patton or Geronimo or Lady Gaga? It is a demeaning question that invites a response like "I am completely invulnerable except when exposed to large chunks of kryptonite" or "I sometimes slap peoples' faces when they ask me rude questions."
Friends familiar with the dark, insidious and cruel world of human resources assure me that such questions are ubiquitous, part of the interviewer's script. Another dandy is, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" Who asks a person just starting out in life a question like that? Or, even worse, a person reaching the end of his career?
"Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" an Egyptian HR firm might have asked the young Moses shortly before he parted the Red Sea. "Wandering around the desert, I guess" would be the response. "And that's where I expect to be 40 years from now, too."
Or, as Jean Valjean of "Les Misérables" might put it: "Ten years from now? Probably getting ready to serve the last nine years of my sentence. I'm doing the big dix-neuf."
To put this in perspective, here are some other idiotic questions that pop up during interviews, with responses by famous historical or literary figures.
Describe a difficult situation at work and how you handled it.
"My boss had two sets of books, and the Feds wanted to see the real numbers. No way I was going behind Big Al's back. So I told 'em: I don't see nothing; I don't hear nothing; I don't know nothing." (Al Capone's CPA)
see the full article at


No Photo of yourself on Linked-In could cost you…..

No Photo of yourself on Linked-In could cost you…..

If you’ve ever had to hire anyone, you’ve read a lot of resumes.  If you’ve ever read a lot of resumes, you come to see standard “red flags” that make you question a candidate’s trustworthiness, character, values and fit for your team. One of the most common red flags includes receiving a “functional” resume.  Functional resumes can cover up gaps in employment as well as a lack of recent experience and a lack of skills. As an example, the candidate may have succeeded in increasing sales 131% but a functional resume won’t tell you that the accomplishment happened 10 years ago and the candidate hasn’t had any significant successes since then.
Another red flag is when a candidate sends you a generic resume to a very specific job positing. This can indicate laziness on the candidate’s part to customize the resume to highlight their experience to your specific requirements... Either they are lazy or just plain don’t have the experience you need.
Once you’ve read your first fifty or so resumes, you start to develop your own set of criteria determining your own “red flags”.

Job candidates are not the only reason to post your photo on Linked-In. More and more, Hiring Mangers, headhunters, HR, vendors, industry professionals and others turn to Linked-In to find out more about a person; a potential candidate, a potential client or customer, vendor, or networker.
One of the biggest Linked-In mistakes a person can make, especially a job candidate, is leave their photo off of their Linked-In profile. It’s another one of those “red flags” not just in job search but also in business.
Humans are visually oriented.  A “picture speaks a thousand words” is a truism that speaks volumes on Social Networking sites. The lack of a photo on Linked-in also speaks a thousand words – as well as raises many more red flags that the person is probably trying to avoid, including the primarily question “why doesn’t this person want me to know what they look like?” “Why isn’t this person transparent?”

In an article by Molly Cain in Forbes last year, The 8 Things You Do Wrong On LinkedIn, failing to post a photo of you made the list.

“….. You don’t post a picture. No, it’s not a beauty contest (and actually, if you use a glamour shot-esque photo, you may get laughed off the interwebs). But a picture is definitely worth a thousand words. We’re not going to judge you; we just want transparency from you. If visuals weren’t important in the business world, you would get every job by simply going through a telephone interview (wouldn’t that be nice?). LinkedIn is very much the same way. Because it has the photo feature, you should be using it. We want to see who we’re working with, networking with and introducing ourselves to – we are visual creatures.”

I’ve heard all kinds of excuses as to “why” someone doesn’t post their photo, none hold water.
-          “Privacy”. Hogwash. A person wants privacy yet is free to post their life history on Linked-In or Facebook; from their career path to education to books they enjoy reading.
-          “I don’t want to be judged on my age, race, size, ______fill in the black” again, Hogwash. If someone wants to Judge you, they don’t need a photo to do that. Most profiles are all telling. And the first time you speak on the phone, will confirm most judgment questions. If you are going to be judged by these criteria, do you really want to work for or with someone like this anyway?
-          “I’m Fat, ugly, etc.”  Really? Who cares? Linked –In is not a dating pick up site. It’s about business.

So if you want more interviews, more business relationships, more networking, follow the simple suggestions outlined in the Forbes article….especially the very simple fix of adding your photo to your Linked In profile.  

We often forget to keep the mind in shape. This is a great article worth sharing for both Managers and Engineers....

Discover the value of your mind

By Harvey Mackay

This time of year, we often start contemplating New Year's resolutions. What's at the top of the list for many people? Exercising and getting your body in shape. A noble thought, to be sure, but I have an even better idea. How about exercising your mind so you can get the most out of it?
Resolve to try something new to keep your brain challenged. Just like doing the same physical exercises over and over again only works a specific part of the body, doing the same mental work repeatedly tends to narrow your focus and limit your potential.

Clearing the clutter and cobwebs out of your mind is not complicated, but it does require some practice for those who are constantly on overdrive. And you all know who you are!

One of my favorite books, "Think and Grow Rich: A Black Choice" by Napoleon Hill and Dennis Kimbro, offers wonderfully well-defined advice about caring for your mind: "Assume for a moment that you have in your possession a million dollars in gold. Would you protect it? Would you safeguard this treasure? Would you respect its value? Of course you would. You might even hire bodyguards or install security devices to ensure its safety.          

"In comparison, your mind and self-image are worth far more than one million dollars. They're priceless! Your mind is the exclusive source of all you will create spiritually, financially, or materially in your life. Your level of joy, happiness, and peace of mind originates from one place - your mind. Now ask yourself, do you protect your mind as carefully as you protect your physical assets?"

Beyond the oft-repeated advice to read a novel, take a walk, learn a new language, and so on, there are plenty of other options that address long-term mind exercises.

A growing trend among business professionals is meditation. Meditation clears and relaxes your mind, which can have a significant impact on your physical health. And meditation doesn't require any special equipment or clothing, just an open mind and a quiet environment free of distractions. Get comfortable and clear your mind. Be conscious of only your breathing. Don't direct your thoughts in any particular direction; let them drift freely. How long you meditate is up to you.
This is a simplified description, and there are many different meditation practices. Check online for coaching in a technique that will help you.

Back at work, learning and remembering new information can grow more difficult with every passing year. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of the knowledge game:
  • Focus on concentrating. Distractions are the bane of any learning attempt. If you're attending a seminar or training session, sit near the instructor and maintain eye contact. Let your focused attention do the job.
  • Say it out loud. Read aloud the material you're trying to learn and repeat out loud the facts you want to retain. This way, both your eyes and your ears are delivering information to your brain.
  • Tame frustration. If you're getting frustrated over material you're trying to learn, remind yourself that getting emotional will only hamper your ability to retain information. Step back and take a break.
There was once a man who wanted to gain power over his mind. He heard that there was a monk in Tibet who could make this come true for him, and so the man traveled through the Himalayas. When the man finally met the monk, the monk replied casually, "Yes, my friend, attaining supernatural powers is simple. For this you merely need a mantra. Just say "Buddham Sharanam Gachchami, Dhammam Sharanam Gachchami, Sangham Sharanam Gachchami" three times - and whatever you do, do not think of monkeys."

This was going to be a cinch, the man thought. He wondered at the direction to not think of monkeys, asking himself, "why would I think of monkeys?"

Then he sat down to try this new practice. But as he chanted the first words of the mantra, the first thought that came to his mind was "monkeys!" He tried chanting louder and imposing a more powerful order to not think of monkeys. Still, all he could think of was monkeys. In fact, he found that monkeys now roamed about his consciousness everywhere.

The monk, seeing the struggle taking place, smiled and said, "Whenever you try to force your mind to go in one direction, you can be very sure it will always go the other way."