A career in academia mostly involves the research you do day to day, but it is not complete without sharing your research with the world. While you can publish your findings in journals and further share it through other media, the most active and involved way to share research is undoubtedly through conferences. At a typical scientific conference, you will find presentations and poster halls, all formal avenues to share research, but there are also lunches, snack breaks, and evening parties, where you get to mingle with other researchers. At conferences, you get the opportunity to directly talk with other people in your field, and in related fields, opening up the opportunity for conversations on collaborative research in ways that simply cannot be done through research publication.
Yes, conferences set the stage for interaction on a whole new level. For some researchers who are comfortable in social situations, the whole conference experience can be a very vibrant experience! They can easily make numerous professional connections that can lead to a robust network of that can support research collaboration and career advancement.
But for socially reserved researchers, attending a conference, especially a large one, can be an unsettling experience. Already pushed by the expectations that they are supposed to mingle and grow their network, their enjoyment of such events may be limited to the formal avenues. They may learn from the presentations and posters, and they may also present their own work, but they may also feel uncomfortable being among people they don’t know. During the breaks and social events, they might even get the impression that everyone else is happily conversing and no one wants to talk to them.