At some small community events because they are in bars, attendees gather around tables which makes it hard for a visiting speaker to sit as everybody is in groups where they all know each other (especially if you’re a bit nervous and shy like me!).
I found lunch/breaktime topic tables to be a fantastic way to connect with attendees. I also would like to see more office hours at conferences. Speaker dinners are really valuable too; I want to connect with notable people/mentors and once we are in the wild of the conference it’s hard to connect.
I love speaker dinners and various parties. Knowing that there are planned opportunities for networking makes it more pleasant. There are way too many conferences to choose from, so I might as well choose those that are fun.
A way to meet other speakers is helpful if you are somewhere not local. Speakers dinners usually address this, but I have been to conferences where they haven’t had speakers dinners and it’s been tricky being in a hotel room by yourself not knowing anyone.