Most people are afraid to arrive early. They stall around and carefully consider the appropriate time to enter the room. Arriving before others places you in the category of looking too eager, bland, idle. And think of all that empty space you have to fill before other guests arrive—silence! awkwardness! preparation! look busy! smile!
Yet these in-between moments are when great relationships are formed. The moments before the talk begins, the hours after the conference has ended, the off-campus lunch break.
Show up early and offer help. You’ll be thanked, you’ll be the first to meet attendees, and you’ll establish familiarity with your surroundings before the rest show up.