You’ve been there before. You are standing in the enormous foyer of the downtown hotel. It’s check-in time on the first day of an academic conference. Jet-lagged professors perk up when they see their old friends. Back slaps and hugs abound. Circles begin to form around the tiny tables. Wine and hors-d’oeuvres are devoured. Stories are told, punctuated by loud laughter.
Except for you. You do not know anybody there. You are alone in a corner, doing your best not to look too awkward. Occasionally you walk laps around the foyer to break things up.
You do not know how to introduce yourself. Do you linger at the periphery of a group of 3-4 and try to awkwardly interject so that you can join the conversation? Do you target an individual and attempt to accost them when they break for the bathroom? Or – in the case of guys – do you go for the pièce de résistance of awkwardness and introduce yourself while standing next to them at a urinal?