I find it almost hilarious that as such an introvert I ended up creating a business that largely connects people physically at events.
My strategy to cope with this was to be the one pulling the strings. I got to make all the decisions. If I didn't want to do something then it was my job for me to find another way, or another person to support me.
I didn't really think about this too much. It was really just a case of 'Rosie doesn't want to do x, how can I solve that?'.
But then I was listening to Zöe Chance on The Good Life Project and she mentioned a similar thing, where as an introvert at events she coped by ensuring she had a task (e.g. serving out drinks at a party) to keep her busy and not feel so awkward.
I've always encouraged people to volunteer and help out at events. At our TestBash events many of our volunteers have been introverts and they get so much out of the experience. It's also something I've often preferred to do, instead of attending as an attendee I will offer to help as a volunteer, it means (if it's managed well) I'm automatically introduced to people and made to feel that I belong.
Physical events can be so rewarding, but at the same time if you don't put yourself out there to make meaningful connections it can feel like events are a complete waste of time.
For any event that you plan to attend,
have a think about how you can get more involved
reach out to the organisers to volunteer or help out even if you have bought a ticket
participate in any pre event conversations to help you better understand who and what is going on
definitely look at the schedule to help you plan
see if you can hook up with people and make plans or just say 'we must meet irl' with other attendees