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As early as 15, I knew I was an introvert but I didn’t realize how much impact it has had on my life until I started going to networking events and conferences for work.
Do you get exhausted talking to people? Check.
Did you ever find yourself at a loss for words in a conversation? Check.
Is introducing yourself a big daunting task? Check.
I still say yes to all these things today. The struggle is real. I’ve written everything I’ve learned over the years in the hopes that when you read it, going to Splice Beta would be a little less scary.
On introducing yourself
Tip: Think of your elevator pitch
Most of my titles at work are unconventional (for newsrooms at least). Some of my previous titles include: online videographer, production specialist, editorial operations manager.
Over time, I noticed that when I introduce myself, I ramble. I feel that maybe most people don’t really get what I do and therefore, it makes it challenging for me and them to find ways to collaborate and learn from each other.
I wrote, edited, and practiced (recorded my voice, timed myself) until it’s concise and snappy. I also practiced with good friends and asked for their feedback. I knew it’s becoming effective when people start asking questions like “what do you do every day,” or “what are your goals” and “what’s the most challenging part of the job.”
My unconventional titles have now become conversation starters.
On starting conversations
Tip: Prepare some go-to questions
When you ask people about their passions, they can talk for hours, including us introverts. But where to start? And worse, what if you find yourself in a group of introverts where no one wants to talk?
You can start with “What do you do?” or “Where are you from?”. At an event like Splice Beta, starting with “What’s your favorite session so far?” or “Who’s the most interesting speaker or person you’ve met?” can go a long way.
Those last two questions, I found, tell a lot about someone’s passions. And like I said, when people talk about things they really care about, they can talk for hours.
On asking people you meet for help
Tip: When asking for help, provide as much context as you can and be specific
One of the reasons I go to networking events and conferences (no matter how scared I always am) is that it’s an opportunity to be in the same room with the smartest people in the industry.
As a young journo, I wanted to learn more about video editing from an advertising and film director, and I wish I knew back then how to help him help me.
I said I wanted to learn more about video editing. What I could have said was that I wanted to learn more about editing 45-90 second clips for news reports. He probably wasn’t sure where to start so he talked about courses and formal training on editing and software.
Time is limited and others want to ask him questions too so in the end, I didn’t learn anything new. It was a wasted opportunity but I made sure from then on to ask better questions. I’m a better writer than a speaker, so I actually write my questions, edit it, rewrite and edit again until it’s concise (similar exercise when I think of my elevator pitch).
On deciding which sessions and events to attend
Tip: Don’t sit next to someone you know or spend a lot of time with
If you’re going to a conference with people you know, the easiest thing to do is to stick with them. But that’s obviously not the best way to meet new people and learn new things.
There’s more opportunity to learn from someone you don’t know yet. For us introverts, networking is exhausting, so I tell myself that the reward of doing it is that I learn new things and meet interesting people.
Multiple sessions happen at the same time and time travel is not yet possible. When I go to conferences with co-workers or friends, I always recommend that we go to different sessions, take notes, and share with one another. #SharingIsCaring. We have a chat group and share updates in it so when one has a question, the person in the session can ask.
On finding time to recharge (especially for introverts)
Tip: Organize your schedule and carve yourself some quiet time
Introverts need their “me time” after a day of conversations and sessions. Sometimes, you just don’t have any energy left to be out there.
Most conferences start at 9 am and end around 5 pm — but then there are networking drinks.
Days before the conference when the full list of sessions is out, I work on my schedule and the sessions I want to attend and make sure I have breaks in between for myself. I use these to process my thoughts, drink coffee, sit quiet or nap. There’s so much information in events like this and I know I need to pace myself.
Bonus tip: Have fun!
These days go by so quickly and you might feel that there’s something you’re missing, either from a session you didn’t get to attend or from a news story that’s unfolding while you’re there. And that’s okay. Don’t let that bring your mood down. What’s important is that you’re learning as much as you can, in the company of some of the smartest people in our industry, and I think that’s fun!
I hope you find this helpful. I’m glad the Splice team asked me to do it because I also need to remind myself to do all these. If you have tips for introverts like me or simply want to connect, I’m at @janieoctia on Twitter! See you in Chiang Mai!
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