Books on the Nightstand discussion

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Booktopia General Discussions > Booktopians, what do you think of this idea?

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message 1: by Ann (new)

Ann (akingman) | 2097 comments Mod
Suzanne had a wonderful idea: Booktopia Buddies, to help newcomers to Booktopia feel comfortable, especially if traveling alone.

Since we have so many returning Booktopians at each event, I think it's a great idea. What do you think? What should "Booktopia Buddies" entail? Should it have a better name?

Once we figure it out, I'll include details in the Booktopia mailings that are emailed to registered guests.

Let's see you brainstorm!


message 2: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2804 comments Mod
How about putting a 1 or "first timer" or some other indicator (change the color) of first timer's name badges so we all know that they may need special attention.

I know I try to watch out for new ones, but I did forget one I brought last year.


message 3: by Ann (new)

Ann (akingman) | 2097 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "I did forget one I brought last year."

OK, explain?


message 4: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) | 510 comments My friend Deb & I will be newbies in VT, I think just a welcome smile & someone who will answer questions, no matter how routine they may seem…..I feel comfortable on line here so I am hoping that carries over to "in person"!


message 5: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2804 comments Mod
Ann wrote: "Linda wrote: "I did forget one I brought last year."

OK, explain?"


Privately


message 6: by Chris (new)

Chris | 180 comments GREAT idea, Ann! And just think, new friendships will bloom! I took Kats under my wing two (three?) years ago, and look at us now! :-)

Perhaps another name? To me, a buddy (at least in school) is someone who helps another person, because he/she is unable. (Trying to say this PC-like.)


message 7: by Kalen (new)

Kalen | 218 comments At PubWest we have First Time Attendee ribbons for the name tags and the board + old timers are encouraged to seek out those folks and introduce them around whenever they can. That would be my suggestion. I'm glad you asked the question. As so many of us are introverts it could be hard to attend for the first time alone.


message 8: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 144 comments My friend Barb and I are coming as newbies to Vermont. I have no problem with wearing a special ribbon or different-colored nametag to indicate my status as "Booktopia virgin." ;) I think it would be helpful!


message 9: by Amy (new)

Amy | 463 comments I think a different color, or other distinguishing factor for newbies would be great! Since many Booktopians are introverts (me!) it is a great starting point for conversations. When I was a "Booktopia Virgin" in Vermont last year, I also thought it was very helpful that the ambassadors (can't remember, was that the word?) were labelled in case I had questions.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I know, Chris, buddy is not the best of names :-)

My thought was to have something available for new Booktopians - if they want it. It could be something as simple as a ribbon on their tag or a different color as others have suggested.

I also thought about a new Booktopian session on Friday with a type of speed dating thing with volunteer "veterans". These can lead to more connections at the larger opening cocktail party.


message 11: by Cory Day (new)

Cory Day (cors36) | 67 comments Having just gone to Petoskey new and alone, I'm trying to think of what would have helped, and it was really only at the very first session that I felt out of place and unsure where to go. Later on, there were little bits of time when someone I was with had left to do something else, but it never took long for someone to notice I was hanging off to the side and invite me to join them!

I think an "opt in" option for some sort of indicator of either new (or just alone) status might be good... or maybe just a quick session prior to the first events where people can meet up? Once I had someone to sit with, it was always fine - it was walking into a room with people already grouped together that was most intimidating to me personally!


message 12: by Ann (new)

Ann (akingman) | 2097 comments Mod
Great thoughts -- so helpful. Keep 'em coming. I'm loving this idea, and have lots to ponder.


message 13: by Debbie (new)

Debbie | 261 comments I guess, for me, if attending alone, the most difficult thing would be meals. Breakfast, no problem, since Booktopians are generally in the same hotels. But lunch and dinner? I would be hesitant to insert myself in a group and finding another new person might be hit or miss. Just my thoughts.


message 14: by Kalen (new)

Kalen | 218 comments I think the Yankee Swap is a great icebreaker. It made for recurring jokes throughout the weekend. I'm glad we'll be doing that again.


message 15: by Chris (new)

Chris | 180 comments I love Suzanne's suggestion of speed "dating!" That could be a really fun game! And I agree with Kalen, the Yankee Swap is a great icebreaker, too!

In thinking about this, I thought back to my first Booktopia and not knowing a soul except the person I dragged along. And I agree, being a bit shy, it is sometimes hard to start conversations with new people. (But as a veteran, have no fear if you've never been before, it won't be but a few minutes before you start making life-long friends!) Again, what a fabulous idea!


message 16: by Cory Day (new)

Cory Day (cors36) | 67 comments Debbie wrote: "I guess, for me, if attending alone, the most difficult thing would be meals. Breakfast, no problem, since Booktopians are generally in the same hotels. But lunch and dinner? I would be hesitant t..."

I agree... maybe, since there is the concern that different people want different things out of lunch and dinner, there isn't an "official" option, but there could be a "meet here if you want a group to go to X restaurant"...

Speed "dating" could also be fun :) It's often the APPROACHING that's hard, not the ultimate conversation...


message 17: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2804 comments Mod
Even as a "oldbie" I like the mention of the meeting place or something for lunch and dinner. A few times, I've been by myself and unsure if I was welcome to "crash" a table or even if others were going out.


message 18: by Ann (new)

Ann (akingman) | 2097 comments Mod
In theory, I agree with you about "meet here for lunch or dinner." In reality, it's a bit of a challenge because everyone is so friendly. That means that 60 people could show up at the same place if announcements are made publicly. :) And we don't want to make arrangements with restaurants beforehand in case not enough people show.

The one exception to this is that we are going to try and arrange for a few places in VT to be open late, since we've run into issues with nowhere to eat after the author event.

But yes, meals are definitely the most challenging times at these events.


message 19: by Cory Day (new)

Cory Day (cors36) | 67 comments Hm, perhaps it's just a "gather here to figure out where to go for food" thing. That way people with groups already can go off, but people without a group can find other groups. It COULD be bad to have the whole group trying to eat at one place!

Could just be accomplished by lingering at the right times in the right places, but it's hard to know, like Linda said, where you can crash. Probably most groups are happy to have new people join, but you never know... I know I lingered after the cocktail party thingy last year until Linda and Joanne noticed me and invited me along :)


message 20: by Joanne-in-Canada (new)

Joanne-in-Canada (inkling_jo) | 255 comments When I attended the first weekend retreat in Vermont, it really helped that Suzanne and the 2 Karens had "talked" to me online. I had some people to look for and go out to meals with. I definitely think some pre-Booktopia contact is helpful. I'm not particularly shy, but sometimes I find it hard to invite myself into a group.

The second year I got to know some people I had seen the first year but not had time to talk to, and I met some new people.

This year, I found that I really wanted to spend all my time with my now-friends, briefly met a few people and only got to know one "newbie" in any depth. I wondered what the experience was like for people attending for the first time, whether they found themselves left out or not.

I think the experience depends largely on whether you come alone or in a group, and whether you mainly want to spend time with the person or people you came with.

A visual indicator of a "newbie" would be useful, as well as the offer to be put in contact with someone before the retreat. Each pair could organize to meet at a meal, the reception or a session as they like.

In university, we were assigned a Big Sister or Big Brother in the year ahead of us. They were our go-to person with questions, and they checked in on us from time to time.


message 21: by Debbie (new)

Debbie | 261 comments Ann wrote: "In theory, I agree with you about "meet here for lunch or dinner." In reality, it's a bit of a challenge because everyone is so friendly. That means that 60 people could show up at the same place i..."

Maybe if there is an identification of someone new or traveling alone, the "buddy" system or whatever it is called could make sure that new folks are not left out.


message 22: by Eric (new)

Eric | 1175 comments Mod
I recommend harrowing hazing rituals.


message 23: by Joanne-in-Canada (new)

Joanne-in-Canada (inkling_jo) | 255 comments In Petoskey, some of us played Scrabble in a microbrewery without having eaten dinner. Would that count, Eric? (The sober player won.)


message 24: by Cory Day (new)

Cory Day (cors36) | 67 comments Hey, you guys didn't have THAT much to drink! ;)


message 25: by Joanne-in-Canada (new)

Joanne-in-Canada (inkling_jo) | 255 comments Very gracious of you, Cory, but next time I'll play you sober! *v*


message 26: by Cory Day (new)

Cory Day (cors36) | 67 comments And I'll brush up on my Words With Friends vs Scrabble word lists!


message 27: by Linda (new)

Linda | 2804 comments Mod
Joanne and I are working on making "co" an official word. (Every letter of the alphabet can be paired to make an acceptable two letter word except for "c" and "v".)


message 28: by Chris (last edited Nov 28, 2013 03:24AM) (new)

Chris | 180 comments Ann wrote: "In theory, I agree with you about "meet here for lunch or dinner." In reality, it's a bit of a challenge because everyone is so friendly. That means that 60 people could show up at the same place i..."

Ann, you DID hear about dinner fiasco, right? This reminded me of that harrowing evening! One, trying to find it in the dark, bless Dawn for driving. Two, a bill for 22+, not split! Ah, memories! :-)


message 29: by [deleted user] (new)

Chris, what I remember about that night was that we all miraculously had cash!


message 30: by melodie (new)

melodie b | 308 comments we when to oxford hubby and I not being drinker might have been the issues but not any meal with only one group we feel very much on the out side when we when to author talk folks talk to us but general stuff so I dont know what would have made it better maybe a newie with a been around person


message 31: by Gabi (new)

Gabi Coatsworth (gabicoatsworth) | 16 comments Maybe adding the attendees' state of origin to the name tag might be helpful. It provides an instant topic of conversation. Also perhaps single people could sign up that they'd like to join a group for dinner. Whether newbies or not it might be a way to get together. I suppose we could just do it via this thread or another 'dinner at Booktopia' thread.


message 32: by Karen (new)

Karen | 293 comments I agree with Linda, by communicating here on goodreads/Booktopia Vermont 2014 it's a way to "break the ice" and then once at the event it makes it easier to seek out people. I don't remember the place but it's right across from The Inn. Very nice staff that was more than happy to have us all show up after the author event.


message 33: by Carol (new)

Carol (ckubala) | 559 comments Mod
Good conversation and lots of interesting thoughts. I like that people are expressing how they feel. In impromptu eating experiences like between sessions I have either invited someone to join me or have crashed (not as comfortable with this). Most people are happy to join but in Bellingham one person declined to join a group at dinner but at least we asked.

Last year, after attending 2 Booktopias I did start thinking about what might make a good icebreaker. The Yankee Swap is fast and furious though we did introduce ourselves but so quick who remembers. The Friday night meet and greet might be a good place to do a sort of speed dating and yet I wonder at the practicality of this when you have a room full of more than 85 people.

If I think of anything brilliant I'll write again.


message 34: by Joanne-in-Canada (new)

Joanne-in-Canada (inkling_jo) | 255 comments I agree with Carol that the Friday night social seems a good place to put people together.

Maybe attendees could indicate when they register for sessions if they want to join an arranged group for Friday dinner, maybe 4 to 6 people with a mix of first-timers and not-first-timers and one person in charge. You could introduce the leaders of the groups, then let us sort ourselves out and decide where to go. (Whatever would delegate the work!)

Spontaneous additional diners would be welcome too.


message 35: by Melissa (new)

Melissa | 279 comments I attended Petoskey as a newbie and alone. I had a lovely time! I met Ann before the first session when she asked me if I was Jill McKorkle! The Yankee Swap was an excellent ice-breaker, and although I am an introvert, I did not have any problems finding friendly people to talk to at the events. I did not find meals to be a problem, because I had far too many books to keep me company.

At most, a different colored badge or ribbon indicating a first-timer would be sufficient. I agree with Ann that trying to set up dining get togethers would be difficult. As an introvert, I would find a speed-dating session or other forced sort of ice-breaker to be uncomfortable, if not painful.


message 36: by Becky (last edited Dec 01, 2013 07:52PM) (new)

Becky (beckymurr) | 510 comments Melissa, I agree, I will be with a friend & we are friendly, not overly outgoing people, the speed dating session would make me uncomfortable…as far as dinners, I like a little spontaneity, if we meet someone & we hit it off, then we could make plans to do a meal together.


message 37: by Joanne-in-Canada (new)

Joanne-in-Canada (inkling_jo) | 255 comments It sounds like maybe all we need is an offer to pair newcomers up with someone ahead of time if they would like. It wouldn't even need to be an "old-timer"!

And maybe on Friday night as part of the general announcements, Ann & Michael could ask who is looking for someone to go to dinner with and we can make sure they find someone.


message 38: by Amy (new)

Amy | 463 comments Joanne wrote: " I wondered what the experience was like for people attending for the first time, whether they found themselves left out or not. ..."

I was a newbie in Vermont last year. I was adopted (or kidnapped depending on who you talk to) by Melissa, Cara, Laura, and Deana. It was fabulous - I don't when I had laughed so hard or so long, and I felt like they had been my friends for awhile!


message 39: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (tracemick) | 217 comments Amy wrote: "Joanne wrote: " I wondered what the experience was like for people attending for the first time, whether they found themselves left out or not. ..."

I was a newbie in Vermont last year. I was adop..."


I need a like button for this!


message 40: by melodie (new)

melodie b | 308 comments being a shy not to out of my own box person a newbie with someone who done it before Thu meet and greet


message 41: by Sara (new)

Sara Henry (sarajhenry) I'd vote for something on the name tag indicating first-timer rather than actually being paired with someone ... but speed dating sounds fun! Or one of those Survivor-style contests where "old-timers" have to answer questions about other participants to see who gets the most answers right ... say, for instance, "Who are Flank, Skank, and Drank?"


message 42: by John (new)

John Tankersley | 11 comments When I've been at conferences I always removed the "first-timer" tag from my name badge. I think I feel like there is a stigma associated with that. Maybe that's just me, but it made me more uncomfortable rather than less. Some conferences I've been to have a special session for first timers to match them up. Others have a dinner sign up group so that you can find other folks to eat & mingle with. My only problem with that kind of setting is that sometimes you get stuck with someone whom you don't best enjoy spending your time and you need to find a way to politely extricate yourself.


message 43: by Michelle (new)

Michelle | 21 comments How about something akin to Secret Santa - except that there would be a list of "Never Met a Stranger" and a list of "Sometimes feel like a Stranger" and it would not be secret. Once the lists are generated match the NMaS and SFLaS. The NMaS can then start an email chat with the SFLaS before Booktopia. Plan on meeting them for the Yankee Swap and the dinner the first night. Introduce them to several others that first evening and then check up on them throughout the weekend.

Just a thought - and I would definitely volunteer to be the first on the Never Met a Stranger list! And head this up for Boulder if we were to plan on doing it...


message 44: by Sara (new)

Sara Henry (sarajhenry) Have any first-timers had problems meeting people or feeling left out? It seems that these events are set up so that it's easy to meet people the first day, at the book swap and at the first-night get-together.


message 45: by Karen (new)

Karen | 293 comments Everybody has always been so friendly and approachable at Booktopia I don't think there would be a problem. When books are the topic of conversation how can you go wrong! I agree with Sara.


message 46: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckymurr) | 510 comments This will be our first time attending & I agree with what Sara & Karen said….I am sure we will feel comfortable once we get there & settled in...


message 47: by Amy (new)

Amy | 463 comments Sara wrote: "Have any first-timers had problems meeting people or feeling left out? It seems that these events are set up so that it's easy to meet people the first day, at the book swap and at the first-night ..."

I was a first timer last year in Manchester, and even though I am an introvert, I met so many amazing people. I'll be with a friend this year who is a first timer.


message 48: by Kalen (last edited Jan 13, 2014 11:44AM) (new)

Kalen | 218 comments Rather than drawing attention to the first timers, how about soliciting volunteers to be "ambassadors." Anyone who is feeling a little lost or left out could approach one of those people who could help facilitate introductions to others.

Also (and I think this has been suggested?), maybe try to connect with people (here or on FB) before the weekend? A friend of my mom's is attending her first Booktopia in Boulder and mom, Karen, and I are making plans to go to lunch or something so that Judy knows some familiar faces before the weekend starts.


message 49: by Debbie (new)

Debbie | 23 comments I attended all three Booktopias by myself last year as a first timer. I met many people, all were very friendly. But I did spend a lot of time by myself and ate most meals alone. This could be me, I am not good at asking to join others, etc. I found that most attend with a friend and tend to go off with their friends. Not meaning to imply that is is not a friendly group. It is, but I do believe that you need to be more outgoing than I am or something.
This was just my experience. I still love Booktopias and will be attending Boulder.


message 50: by Cory Day (new)

Cory Day (cors36) | 67 comments Debbie wrote: "I attended all three Booktopias by myself last year as a first timer. I met many people, all were very friendly. But I did spend a lot of time by myself and ate most meals alone. This could be me, ..."

I agree - the friendliness isn't in question, but I think it can be tough to hang out with friends (especially ones we only see occasionally!) AND be totally aware of people who might not have a group. It's also hard to figure out what existing group to join if you're alone.

Something a little more formal than just "welcome people you don't recognize!" might help EVERYONE meet new people :)


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