Networking is hard. Some extroverts can work a room, but for the majority of people, it can be extremely difficult to break into a conversation in a room full of strangers without feeling awkward. At Connect, we are aware of this struggle for Marketplace attendees. We try to accommodate both extroverts and introverts in various situations: At receptions… We’ve always had opening and closing parties, but we’ve added something new this year: a send-off reception. It’s an optional, one-hour opportunity for attendees to grab a drink and continue conversations from Marketplace appointments or meet with someone they have yet to speak with. At orientations… If you’ve ever been to an orientation at Marketplace, you know Chris Collinson likes to open with a few minutes of meet and greet. While it may seem cheesy, it’s intentional to help you make a new connection and have a “buddy” to go to opening reception with. At general sessions… Some planners create networking opportunities by assigning seating based on common interests, such as tables labeled “movie buffs” or “cheese lovers.” But at Marketplace, we know some of you want to continue networking with potential clients or venues, so we keep seating open. At education… A few of this year’s educators are adding Networking 101 to their sessions by assigning attendees to tables, opening with a few minutes of meet and greet, or switching up groups during the session. Trust me, I understand networking can be tiring and may have you longing to run to your hotel room and order room service. But our industry is driven by connections. For the good of your meetings and professional growth, keep grabbing those business cards and shaking hands.