Monday, November 13, 2023

Don't be shy! Making yourself at home in a crowd of strangers

 

HALLIE EPHRON: We’re putting this together before a contingent of Reds descend on the New England Crime Bake. Debs is guest of honor. The Reds are putting on a game: THE NEWLYREDS GAME. Giving away books… Laughing a lot. Here's the gang revving up.

And, oh by the way (drum roll), we're loaded with good news! Deb’s book A KILLING OF INNOCENTS is among the top 6 highest-rated mysteries on Goodreads for 2023! And Rhys’s THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING: A ROYAL SPYNESS MYSTERY is ranked #1 new release on Amazon for historical mysteries.

For some of us, getting ready for a conference can feel like preparing to get on a roller coaster - you know there will be ups and downs and you won't be alone. 

And for those of us who go to conferences regularly, it pays to have learned how to relax in a crowd of people you don’t know. It’s not like that dance in junior high… because everyone is there to meet people.

Here's our advice for anyone who has to mingle with a crowd of folks you don’t know.

#1. Realize that almost everyone is feeling the same anxiety that you are, even if they look like they're having an absolute ball. 

#2. Don't be shy. Sidle right up to strangers and introduce yourself. (I usually add something like "I'm not sure if we've met before..." because I"m so terrible at remembering names and faces. Avoid a line like: "Come here often?" which can be misinterpreted.)

#3. This is the big one. ASK QUESTIONS! And...

#4. BE GENUINELY INTERESTED IN THEIR ANSWERS. As Jean-Luc would say: ENGAGE!

If you’re lucky they’ll ask a question or two about you and lickety split, you’ve found common ground.

What’s your advice for mingling? And, oh, any advice for how to graciously extricate yourself if you need to?

RHYS BOWEN: I wish I were up there mingling with you instead of propping my leg up with ice on it. I think mingling is a skill that has to be learned.

As Hallie said, ask questions. People live to talk about their kids, their own writing, their travels. I always advise people to go up to someone sitting or standing alone. They might be more shy than you are and welcome your friendly approach. I know my first Bouchercon I was so grateful for friendly people.

Enjoy Crimebake. Have fun!

LUCY BURDETTE: I am not a natural mingler in a crowd that I don’t know. (I probably told you how John and I had to be taken around by the hotel manager at a cocktail party for newlyweds on our honeymoon.)

We’ve both improved! The thing to remember is we are all there because we love reading and writing mysteries, so that’s an instant connection. I feel so pleased that I’ll be seeing a lot of old friends this time around, and not just the Reds whom I adore!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I am a terrible mingler! Terrible. I am terrified and nervous at every moment. And yes, like Rhys, I try to approach someone who is alone, that’s somehow easier for me.

And the other thing I try to remember is that it’s NOT about me me me. Who cares, right? It’s about the other person, and once I remember that, I’m fine..

My extrication? I tell the truth: “Well, I promised myself I was going to mingle, so here I go.” And then I go.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I think I'm a pretty good mingler. That's probably thanks to my dad, who was the consummate salesman, and could mingle with anyone. He had no trouble striking up conversations with complete strangers!

Hallie's advice is spot on–ask questions, be interested in the other person. As for the extricating, that can be a bit tougher…

JENN MCKINLAY: Every stranger is a friend I haven’t met yet.

I’m a mingler. I can talk to anyone about anything and I genuinely enjoy meeting people and hearing their origin stories - it’s all material! 

Very rarely do I need to escape, but when I do I usually just excuse myself to get a cup of coffee, use the restroom, or whatever exit presents itself. 

HALLIE: So do large gatherings give you joy or palpitations? And what's your advice for having a good time and really meeting people?

114 comments:

  1. Mingling is definitely not something I am good at doing . . . I am so much better at being a wallflower! But you've offered some great advice for someone who would like to meet people and have fun . . . .

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  2. All great tips. At the Crime Bake cocktail party, I noticed a woman standing alone with a drink in her hand. I left the group I was chatting with and went to talk with her. And I made a new friend!

    When I was seventeen and an exchange student in Brazil, learning Portuguese by immersion, I had gotten used to sitting and waiting for someone to come up and talk to me. It's hard to initiate a conversation when you can't talk. But by halfway through the year I was fluent and was still acting like a bump on a log. My Brazilian father sat me down and gave me a talking to. "You're wasting your year," he said. "Everybody has something interesting to say. Ask them questions about books they've read, music they like, places they've been." He was so right and I've tried to operate that way ever since. It sure turned my year around, too!

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    1. Ha ha! This reminded me of the time I was alone at a Chinese friend's wedding reception in a crowded apartment in which everyone was speaking Chinese. I stood in a corner and only belatedly realized I'd eaten the paper wrapper off a Chinese dumpling.

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  3. I am very shy until I get to know someone. Mingling is difficult for me even at family reunions as I come from a big family and some cousins I haven't seen in many years and now they are grandparents as am I. And here I am in the process of planning a reunion along with another cousin and it was my idea.

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    1. Paula, that is such a wonderful thing that you are doing for your family. I hope that you are able to enjoy it and not be fussing over details that day. I think you will get to talk a bit to everyone there when you are the hostess.

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    2. Agree with Judy (who is not an introvert and is very good at asking questions). It will be a wonderful party!

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    3. LOL. I just saw this. Next conference, assign me a "minder" to keep me in line.

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    4. My husband had a big close family who were always getting together. Very boisterous. Warm. Loving. All I had to do was stand there and smile. Very relaxing.

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  4. Although I have been going to Bouchercon, Left Coast Crime & other mystery conventions for over 30 years, it's HARD!!

    As an introvert, I prefer to interact with a small group of people or just be one-on-one with a solo friend. In those type of settings, I can be quite gregarious. Many people don't think I'm an introvert there!

    If I can, I deliberately leave the convention hotel to wander alone. And I usually stay at a different hotel. Being with a lot of people can be draining for us introverts. I need time to decompress alone each day. Introverts get this...others don't!!!

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    1. I totally understand this Grace! I need to retreat from time to time too, to recharge, and I try not to scold myself for this!

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    2. Oh, no! Every time I saw Lucy standing alone, I had to go over and say something. Sorry, Lucy if interrupted your recharging moments. I really did try not to overwhelm everyone. It was just so good to be there with you all!

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    3. YES! It really is necessary self-care. And the days at conventions can be LONG. This year's San Diego Bouchercon was go-go-go from 7:00 am sessions to evening sessions. And it ran from Wednesday afternoon to Sunday this year...I was exhausted!!

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    4. Interesting... about staying in a different hotel. And I *love* knowing that my quiet room and bed are just an elevator ride away so I can nip up and refresh before diving back in.

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    5. Truly, when I am at the depleted stage, being able to walking 10-15 minutes to another hotel is blissful. I also probably won't see anyone I know (who wants to chat) in an elevator or escalator as I make it to my hotel room.

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    6. GRACE: I’m glad you got a nice walk along the water in San Diego. While I was in the conference hotel, I was on a low floor by the stairs so I could sneak away through a maze of corridors that only one other attendee was using. And sigh in relief when I got to my room.

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    7. Yes, the pathway besides the water between the Hilton & the Marriott at 6:45 am was pretty peaceful. Just what I needed before starting busy days on Thursday, Friday & Saturday!

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  5. I was dreadfully shy as a child and still gravitate toward sitting off by myself rather than actively mingling. But I'm always happy when someone draws me into a gathering or invites me to have lunch with them.

    I agree that the extrication part is difficult. I remember being told do NOT tell someone you're going to grab a coffee or go to the restroom and then leave and to talk to someone else. If you make an excuse, you better follow through! (Or at least don't let the person you extricated yourself from catch you!)

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    1. Can't imagine you shy, Annette - You always make other people feel SO welcome.

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  6. It was my first time at Crimebake in the in-person format and found that it was easy to mingle and everyone was gracious to folks with the "green-newbie-tag."

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    1. Maren, this is so good to hear! I think everyone involved in the Crimebake would agree that this was the goal.

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  7. I agree that making a connection is about asking a question. At my one and only Bouchercon, I learned to ask of anyone, "Are you a writer or a reader?" -- and the conversation was started. The alternative is to make a statement, something like, "Isn't this the most amazing conference setting! Just look at that palm tree -- we don't have them where I live." Which begs the question, "Where do you live?" -- and the conversation is started.

    "Small talk" is often looked down upon as a waste of time, but it is actually the spark that makes connection.

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    1. Amanda, you could give lessons on initiating small talk!

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    2. Hallie: Aw gee, thanks. I remember that 'small talk' was always an important point of teaching in my college classes with international students. They well knew the crucial skill it was in order to make connections in their new home, where everyone was a stranger to them.

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  8. Total fan girl here! I had to restrain myself from hanging all over the Reds every time I saw them. I was so delirious with joy every time I walked by them, it was like I had to report in and say, "Here I am and I am so happy you are here. May I bask in your sunshine for a moment or two?"

    I want to thank Edith for taking me under her wing, introducing me to many people and being the joyful, person that she is. Edith, YOU ROCK!

    Karen, in another example of "woman plans, God laughs," I am glad we finally met in person. I sure hope you are feeling much better.

    Finally, I love Lucy! Hallie, feel better quickly. I missed meeting you. Hank, such a joy to finally meet face to face! Jen, I'll be laughing over every hilarious moment. Julia, I did "fan girl" a little. Debs, it was hard to not just hang all over you. I am so grateful to you for bringing me to the blog and into this amazing community. Congratulations on your award and the recognition given you at Crime Bake. Your books are favorites of mine! It was great to meet face to face at last.

    Crime Bake is an intimate conference, much easier to navigate than expected. Very friendly. Nice hotel. Decent food. DEATH BY CHOCOLATE.

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    1. Judy: I love your report on the conference. Sounds like it was a blast for you!

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    2. JUDY: I am so happy to hear you had a great time at Crime Bake! It's great that you had Edith to show you the ropes & take you around. And I think I would have fan girled if I had met so many REDS in person for the first time!!

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    3. Hahaha! It was my pleasure, Judy. And thanks for contributing to our little Friday night whiskey party! (Sorry Jenn and Julia for not getting the word out to you both, too.)

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    4. Thank you, Judy, for "introducing" me to Shane East. Still swooning.

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    5. Sorry, Hallie! I brought Writer's Tears and Judy chipped in with her Glenlivet. A lovely time was had on Friday night. ;^)

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    6. OMG, Jenn. They are expecting you on Shaniaks, tee, hee, hee.

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    7. Judy, meeting you in person was one of the highlights of the weekend! You are a terrific mingler! (And now going to check out Shane East...)

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    8. So wonderful to see you! You are absolutely a treasure! xxx And hope you got safely and happily home.. :-) You are a SAINT!

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    9. OMG everyone. Thank you, Debs. XXOO! Hank, thanks for recommending my canonization. You were spot-on with your parting warning. Oh, my.

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  9. I hid under my grandparents kitchen table when family came over๐Ÿ™„ didn't even know what shy was way back then. The word shy wasn't known for another few decades. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜… I have acting tools to get past it for times, but it's exhausting. I also gravitate to our home security. Raised by police & fire workers being told to stay away from people๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜… was helpful in 1 in keeping shyness safe ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜… loving reading, research & seclusion all made me curious & built a brain taught proper manners.. Necessary to mingle in life & meet people. Trade conversations & ideas.

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    1. Very telegraphic, Kath... but I totally get it. I think each of us are born somewhere on the shyness spectrum. In my family we were expected to perform, and rewarded according to whether we could make 'em laugh. A thick skin is a useful attribute.

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  10. As a kid I was also very shy and not very confident. Then in my mid-20s a friend who had an insurance agency asked me to consider working with him in sales. Who? ME??? But his wife also encouraged me, so I did all the things, and found I was very, very good at it. Who knew? But it also meant putting myself out there in a million new ways: chatting with people at the gym, at Friday night bar hopping with girlfriends, at the grocery store, and making 100 cold calls a week, both in-person and on the phone.

    Like Grace, I'm more inclined to be introverted, although my natural curiosity about other human beings helps override that inclination. It's okay for me to wander around by myself sometimes, as well as hang out with fun pals like Edith and Judy--we had a ball until I went down like a ton of bricks Saturday morning. It's also my preference to spend time with smart, funny people, like Edith, Grace, Judy, Jenn, Julia, Hank, Debs, Hallie, Roberta, Annette, Rhys, and so on.

    When Edith, Grace and I were on our way to eat dinner last year at Minneapolis Bouchercon another conference goer, a first-timer, stopped us and asked if she could join us. She knew how to do it! And we thoroughly enjoyed her company.

    Hallie, I hope you're feeling better. You were much missed, along with Celia and Rhys.

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    1. KAREN: You are right about us meeting SUSAN in Minneapolis. She was good company. I met her several times at San Diego Bouchercon this year, too.

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    2. Karen, this makes me so sorry that I missed this year's. This blog has been such a wonderful way to connect. (And I'm feeling better. Tested negative this morning)

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    3. It was delightful to meet you, Karen, even if just briefly. Despite being sick, you still sparkled.

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    4. Hallie, I'm SO glad to hear that.

      Jenn, it was so fun to meet you, too. You were just cracking me up at the JRW panel with your antics!

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  11. Another shy person here--big gatherings are hard for me, especially when many people are crammed into a small space. I agree with all the advice. It's great to be curious and genuinely interested in the replies, not just waiting for your own chance to tell a story.

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    1. "not just waiting for your own chance to tell a story" - EXACTLY!

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  12. Both he who Harumphs and I are ridiculously introverted. He, however, when he gets talking will NEVER shut up – especially if it includes motorcycles (even if no one else is listening. I probably ruined him for that as when we would be driving home from Ottawa on an icy 417 hwy, I would ask him questions about Formula 1 racing about which I had no interest, and he would blabber on about who knows what, but at least he would not fall asleep for the 1.5 hr drive. Meanwhile I snoozed through it, only to wake up in time to ask another mindless question. You just need a few names – who is Mario Andretti anyway?)
    Meanwhile, once I get to meet people I am sort-of ok. I can do Book Club, and loved 4-H get togethers. I learned from my mother – also a very shy person – that at huge family get togethers, you volunteer to do the heavy work. That means you can spend all the time in the kitchen and never have to make idle chit-chat. I could never run a B&B.
    So far this year, we are trying to figure if we can get Covid or something, so that we don‘t have to go somewhere for Christmas. The last few years have been so quiet and peaceful. We have been invited to my daughters (2 kids 7 &5, and more relatives who specialize in noise), my son’s – they already have 12 years of their own traditions, and my brother’s – again too many people and they are ‘planning’ a wedding in Amsterdam in June – imagine all that noise.
    Maybe there will be a snowstorm or we can go over and listen to the cackling of the chickens, and not tell them we are eating their relative!

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    1. Volunteer! Shoulda put that n a a tip. So smart Margo. I remember my very first Bouchercon (in Denver) I volunteered to help register. I knew literally NO ONE. Had just scored a literary agent. Hadn't even been to a SinC meeting.

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    2. You don’t need an excuse! It is your holiday! Just say we are celebrating Christmas at home this year!

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    3. Margo, you are so darn funny. Full stop.

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    4. Yes to volunteering! That gave me a great experience at B’con Long Beach when I was even more introverted than I am now.

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  13. From Celia: an extrovert and an introvert walk into a bar, or in this story a hotel, or rather they didn’t. Yes, I’m the I. And this is exactly the advice I needed to read.it raised my spirits to read your stories of NECB and hear that you all had a fabulous time. Julia has called me already to give me a little of the dish and talk about “next year in Jerusalem” or rather Dedham. I’ll be looking for the session recordings too. Thank you everyone for your lovely kind thoughts. And my best go out to Hallie. I had signed up to volunteer at her session so now I’ll just say Next year. At least I had the consolation of our darling daughter who had come to be with her father while Julia and I gallivanted, or rather didn’t. Judy I shall count on you to take care of this newbie next year. And Edith, your photos made my heart sing, thank you so much.

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    1. Hugs, Celia! Such a bummer to miss this one.

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    2. Aww, you are welcome. I'll bring another bottle of Writer's Tears to next year's Bake!

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    3. Celia, of course I will be your pal next year! I was disappointed that you could not come this weekend. I also had volunteered in order to meet people before the conference and intended to arrive on Thursday. Well, I am happy that I made it there on Friday and that alone is a blessing. Next year in Dedham!

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    4. A year is a long time! Don’t make promises that you may not be able to keep! No one needs that kind of pressure.

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    5. Celia, don't forget to send me your address!

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  14. I enjoy large gatherings in small doses. Which means I'm okay for a couple of hours, but then I need to retreat to my room because "too much people-ing."

    I've gotten better at mingling. My go-to at events like Bouchercon or Crime Bake is "What are you reading/writing?"

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    1. We should make a list of surefire questions. The DO- and the DON'T-asks...

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  15. AAAGH! Too many junior high lunchroom memories. "May I join your table?" Sorry, all these seats are reserved. "Is this seat taken?" (auditorium) Yes, I need it for my laptop bag/bookstore bag/25 lb tote bag. "Hi, it's nice to finally meet you in person." I have no idea who you are. "Where are you from?" No place you've heard of.

    Looking forward to my first Books on the Banks in Cincinnati on Saturday and my first Malice in April.

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    1. Margaret, there wasn't one instance where an empty chair was denied me. I know what you mean about junior high. Fortunately, NE Crimebake is peopled by adults. Use the Red Writers' suggestions. They are exactly what I use and more.

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    2. This reminds me of travelling with my father. He had been an important mucky muck about town and knew everyone - he had been a ship chandler and then the mayor. I had been away from home since I was 16, and now back at 65 knew no one, but they knew me. I would take him to funerals for people in town, and he was now forgetting them or at least could not recognize them. He would mumble to me "who is that". I would mumble back "I don't know". He would bluff his way through it as we hoped it would soon be time for the egg-salad sandwiches and then we could go home!

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    3. I have found, when I'm not sure if I know someone, they probably feel the same. A greatt opening: "Hi, there. You look so familiar. I'm Hallie Ephron. Have we met before?" Works whether I've met them or not... and especially works if they were staring at me and trying to figure out who the heck I am and whether they should know.

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    4. Congratulations, Margaret, on your first BBTB! I'll look for you.

      I make it a point, if I'm alone, to try to sit at a table with just two or three people. That is usually a success, unless they're mad at each other or something.

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  16. Large gatherings is different from crowds, right? When I was at Bouchercon, a large gathering, there were times when it was not too crowded. Never liked crowds, though I have been told that I'm social.

    Easier for me to approach someone who is alone. You never know if you are interrupting a conversation between two people.

    Diana

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  17. I probably need to dial back the extrovertedness (some people actually want to be left alone) but as Popeye says, "I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam."

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    1. Jenn, we love you just the way you are!!! Don't ever change!!

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    2. Me, too. Still feeling like I need to apologize to everyone for being overly exuberant. That's me, the puppy who jumps.

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    3. As an introvert, the number of times I am grateful to an extrovert for carrying the conversation FAAAAR outweighs the few times I wish they would be quiet.

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  18. Not a mingler. All the interesting witty things I could have said come to me hours later. Being on the side lines observing is much more my comfort zone.

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  19. Definitely a learned skill. Mingling is fine, especially at book events. There's an immediate common ground. I also love learning about other people, what they're reading, writing, interested in. Their kids, pets, part of the country. So much to learn! Then I need to crawl back into my shell and decompress with a nice glass of wine!

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  20. Another introvert here. I like being around people, but I’d rather listen than talk. At 74, I’m still too shy to approach strangers. I DO do it sometimes, but it takes a lot of courage. I can get quite chatty if I feel comfortable with the other person or people. I’m definitely a good listener, which is the upside of being shy and introverted. I learn a lot about people just from listening.

    I’m in southern Connecticut, and would love to go to Crime Bake eventually! If I do, I’ll be that short, anxious person in the corner, drinking club soda, trying to get up the courage to say hello! I’ve met Hank and Roberta a couple of times, so I would probably approach them if they were alone! I need to get up the courage to sign up!

    DebRo

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    1. And those seven ladies wearing red pashminas will be US dragging you into te bar...

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  21. I've found that if there is a lull in the conversation that asking people about their pets is a sure fire conversation -not just starter- but takes over the rest of the evening. Especially asking people about their dogs!

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    1. That works even with those of us who don't have pets... gets the conversation going. Which is what it's all about.

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  22. I'm fairly new in politics and am often in large settings of people I don't know or have just met recently. I'm very shy so that makes it hard too. I usually tell myself others feel the same way and I can usually spot someone who is as shy as me. I make it a point to go up to them to talk and that usually helps. aprilbluetx at yahoo dot com

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    1. I'd suggest fortification with spirits beforehand, but that can backfire.

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  23. My trick for conversation among strangers is to wear a comment-worthy piece of jewellery. It doesn't have to be out there, just something that someone else can latch on to (conversationally) and say, "Oh, that's an interesting necklace...." And of course I'm looking for the same token on someone else.

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    1. How clever! Like baiting the hook. Some authors have little charms made out of their book cover and wear it to the conference. I like your non-book advertising jewelry better.

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  24. Also an introvert here. Great tips! Conferences were always hard for me. I definitely need time away to decompress. Favorite one occurred in St. Louis, best friend and his SO drove across the state to meet me, we went to the zoo and had dinner together. A wonderful break! This past Saturday, I had my first author event--gave a reading at a monthly coffeehouse event established by a local writers' group and small press. At archaeology conferences, presentations were torture. I look at a photo of myself from the reading and think, who was that person?? Clearly, relaxed and happy to be in front of a crowd! One day, I hope to make one of the writer's conferences and meet some of you all in person!

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  25. MARGIE: It was so nice to finally meet you in San Diego! We have been commenting here & on Lesa Holstine's blog about books for so many years.

    And it certainly did help that the REDS organized the informal get-together at this year's Bouchercon. A small table of us regular JRW commenters chatting together was lovely. It was also my first time meeting Lisa in Long Beach, Pat S, and Kim Hays in person!

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  26. SO great to read all of these--we never have trouble mingling on the blog, right? And I love how JRW has given us an instant personal connection!

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    1. For me, it's like giving a talk. The crowd may be daunting, so I pick out an individual or two and speak to / approach them. And as others say, choosing someone who is also on her or his own at the moment works well. I've never been to Crimebake, but Yay Deb! And Yay Rhys!

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    2. Hank, I felt exactly that way. When I met you and Debs in San Diego, you both looked at my name tag - which had my last name on it - and said, “Pat S!” Because, of course, that’s my name on the blog! My friend who was with me and not a JRW blog reader, couldn’t understand why I went up to people on panels (Kim Hays, Edith, Jenn) afterwards and said, “I’m a Reds reader!” Because we feel like we’re part of a family here! — Pat S

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    3. Hank and Pat S. so true! It is a strong connection. You can just refer to a recent blog topic in order to start a conversation and it's a perfect ice-breaker.

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  27. Oh boy, do I regret missing this conference...

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  28. I “do better” in groups of strangers…conferences…than in groups of famliars…extended family gatherings, alumni reunions. Perhaps it is because that with strangers, I can duck away for a bit without making excuses? One of the best times I had at a wedding was when I knew no one but the bride and had no worries about tripping over family connections, just smile, talk about things of interest (not great aunt Mildred and her low cut minidress or why THEY ever decided to marry? will stay married? dumped their ex?) Cheers, Elisabeth

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    1. This is starting to sound like the setting for a murder mystery...

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  29. I, too, loved meeting the Reds and JRW commenters that Friday morning at Bouchercon! I live in San Diego so was driving in every day. I’ve already booked my room in Nashville for B’con ‘24 so am looking forward to being in the hotel. Then I can participate in the early morning or late into the evening activities! — Pat S

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  30. I attended my first Bouchercon this past August in San Diego with my friend from college. She is very “proper” - can talk with other people, but doesn’t go out of her comfort zone to do so. I’m apparently more like Jenn and Judy — the puppy wanting to run around and meet everyone! I was thisclose to jumping up and down on the first day because I was so excited to be there with my people - mystery book lovers. And Hallie, I did just walk up to authors and tell them I enjoy their books or an author whom I had just seen on a panel. Amazingly, I found out that authors are people, too! I have reservations for Bouchercon Nashville for next August and can’t wait! Hope to see many of you Reds and commenters there! — Pat S

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    1. PAT S: I'm registered for Nashville Bouchercon, so see you there. And contrary to what I said above not staying at the convention hotel, I am booked at the Gaylord Opryland hotel since it is pretty much isolated from other accommodation.

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    2. The good news is no one in this group will give you any grief if you go walkabout for a bit.

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    3. Lisa and Grace, from the looks of the hotel, you can go walkabout on their grounds and not run into anyone. It looks huge! And yay that you’re both going to be there! — Pat S

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  31. Anyone who knows me knows I am a mingler. I love to meet new people. But I still sometimes find myself feeling hesitant and even shy. My go-to is always to find someone who looks lonely and to approach them with whatever question occurs to me. It’s always rewarding to see the relief on the face of someone who felt left out. At the latest Bcon I had a woman tell me she’d always remember me for being welcoming. It works!

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  32. So glad to meet you, Margie! IIRC, you were sitting by yourself in the lobby, but after a few minutes you approached me and Grace, so you have come a long way!

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  33. I was very happy that my book club read ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE this summer because that put me in the right mind frame for B’con and I definitely struck up more conversations than in the past.

    But it is still a work in progress. I’ve kicked myself for not introducing myself to a woman who I saw several times - at the same table at an authors breakfast, at the same panels, waiting in lines for a couple of the same authors. We clearly had reading tastes in common but I never pushed through the shyness. Maybe I’ll see her in Nashville and do better.

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  34. I'm not a good mingler, usually because I have a hard time coming up with topics to talk about beyond a few basics. But if we have something in common we can talk about, we can go on for hours. Book conferences do help since we have a natural connection with books. Still, somedays I'm better at mingling than others.

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    1. Mark, some days we're ALL better at mingling than others!

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    2. MARK: Thanks so much for waking up crazy early Saturday morning to drive down to attend San Diego Bouchercon. Coming to our Dru Ann & Friends panel at 7:30 am was a big deal for us! And I enjoyed our chat after the panel ended.

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    3. You're welcome! I enjoyed the panel, and it was great to meet you in person.

      One correction, I actually drove down Friday night and stayed at the other hotel. 7:30 was still crazy early for a panel, but I wouldn't have made it if I had to drive down (about three hours) Saturday morning. :)

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  35. Correction to my post above: Lou Berney's amazing new book is, of course, Dark Ride. Calico is by Lee Goldberg and is also terrific.

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  36. When I was going to Bouchercon and book events pre-pandemic, I was a pretty good mingler. Somebody laughed at John Bychowski (of course, John knows everybody through his great photos) and me at a Bouchercon as we started across a room, and they said John and Kathy will know everybody they pass by the time they get to the other side of the room. I don't know it that was true, but I wasn't shy to talk to an author or others, as we were all there as book lovers. And, people are truly interesting. I love learning from others and about others. But, these were my people, an environment in which I felt comfortable and a part of. I'm not so good in an environment where I don't know anybody and it's an outside of my comfort zone place. For example, a military gathering or ball. Philip asked me today if I was interested in going to a military ball next weekend, and my answer was a quick no. Of course, our son's death has made any large gathering off-limits to me now. I had to cancel Bouchercon San Diego, something I had looked forward to so much, as I just couldn't handle talking to people, even people I was close to. I'm scheduled for Nashville next year, and I'll just have to see how I feel then. It's finally one I can drive to, only 2 to 2 1/2 hours away, so I hope I can do it. And, I am one of the extroverts/introverts who need some space to myself from time to time, too.

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  37. It hasn’t been dealt with here, but people who are major players in a conference and see or hear you and then go home and call you quietly to have a talk can be a source of really great friendship. Many years ago, I attended as a delegate of many a 4-H conference where they were suddenly into branding and other bits of foolishness and waste of money surveys. It would mean that a programme that was free to all farm and not farm kids (it was paid for by the Dept of Agriculture) would come to have a cost to join. I shook and shook in my chair and finally stood up and said that if they did that, the programme would suddenly become non-feasible to so many rural kids. The panel was shocked. It was as though cost of things had not been important or not even considered. One woman from the panel later came down and asked me to explain a little more. As I was one of the parents who would no longer be able to let our children attend, not only did I explain this, but named names of several other delegates of others there. It was about a week later that she called me at home with all the time in the world to hear what I had to say. She listened. It was within the year that she called and asked me to be a voice of reason and later they offered me a job, but that is secondary. Through this I became great friends with this association and so many people in it. All it takes is a moment of kindness.

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    1. Thank you for doing that! Boone Grove Future Farmer here, and the low cost of entry (cost of materials for whatever projects I was doing for the fair) was crucial.

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  38. Connie Johnson HambleyNovember 13, 2023 at 5:24 PM

    Oh, gosh, Reds. Do you think I believe any one of you is as shy as you claim? You lit up our beloved Crime Bake with your Newly-Red game and dare I say each of your dance moves vanished any hint of you being an introvert. I agree with Margo about taking a moment to offer a bit of kindness and conversation forges lasting friendships. My biggest regret is never having enough time to truly connect with each person. I'm so happy many Reds live in New England as that means our paths will cross again.

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    1. Connie, we had such a great time, and you were just radiant.

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  39. Congrats to Deborah and Rhys on their books, and some year I'd like to attend the Clambake and visit my Maine family! I've been in many situations where mingling was required, and it became easier when I started writing mystery novels because I could think about who (hypothetically) would get killed.

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