In a few days I'll be attending my first academic conference in Spain. I'll be going alone and this never became apparent to me that it might be a problem until I spoke to a few people about their experiences at their first academic conferences.
The most common word that arose was 'miserable' - most said that it was difficult to get to know people and to keep up with the pace. While I think I'll be okay with the pace - I'm drawing up a rough idea of which talks I want to attend and where I want to be - I'm not so sure about the communication part. As I won't know anyone at the conference, my plan was literally to just smile and talk to random people so that I can network and make friends but I'm starting to have doubts about whether this will work - will it work?
I have a (slight) anxiety problem and my history of socialising has been terrible so what I fear most is making a fool out of myself in front of people aren't really looking to socialise and make friends. I don't have very comprehensive knowledge in the field since I have only completed my undergraduate degree last year although I never really saw this as a problem.
EDIT: Thank you to everyone! The advice given was really useful. I really just went with the 'talk to random people' strategy. It was awkward with some people as you can immediately pick up that they don't want to talk to you, but I think it's very important that you don't take it personally and just try again. And I made really good friends and connections by doing this. Preparing questions and such also helped a lot - asking my first question was difficult but it was much easier to participate afterwards. At the end of the day, I really think that what you put in is what you get out. Also, imagining people naked sometimes helps!