Can you network as a shy introvert and do it without dying? Sure. Networking as a shy introvert will take a lot of effort in the beginning. First of all, let’s clarify that not all introverts are shy.
Introverts are people who enjoy spending time on their own and are re-charged from spending time by themselves. While shy people get nervous or reserved around people. A person can be both shy and introverted or they can be only one of the two.
I happen to be a shy introvert so, things can get a little hard especially when it comes to networking and I know I am not the only one who feels that way. Here are some tips to help you survive the next networking function that you are required to attend:
Partner up with an extrovert.
An extrovert will have all the energy for you in this situation. Sometimes it is easier to get in the conversation once they break the ice and get the conversation started. But, be careful because they’re energy could very easily overpower you if you are too shy and make you seem less attractive to the person you are trying to network with.
Start slow. Start by talking to one person.
You don’t have to talk and network with everybody. Go to events that are low risk and talk to one person. See how it feels and what feels awkward. That way you know what to fix in your next encounter. Also, keeping the stakes low initially helps to take off some of the pressure. People already make you nervous, no need to add the pressure of talking to ten new people.
Go for it then, treat yourself later.
Just talk to someone. Get it out of the way. If its bad; its bad but, at least you did it. Talk to people. Pretend to be social for one night and then, rest. Give yourself permission to completely shut down later. Ignore everyone and just relax. Re-charge. You exhausted your social meter and deserve a treat. Treat yourself in a way that is fit for your personality.
Know your limits.
Only you know your max. Maybe, your limit is 10 people. Maybe, your limit is 5 people. But, know what you absolutely cannot do in order to make your experience pleasant. Maybe, you rather talk to individuals or maybe you rather talk when you have someone that you know well accompanying you. Maybe, groups larger than 5 make you a nervous wreck because you feel like you are competing. But, it is important that you know that so, you can make networking as pleasant as possible.
Practice makes perfect.
This is my last piece of advice and as frightening as it may seem to willingly talk to people on a consistent basis for professional purposes, it is useful. Eventually, networking may become a little easier and you may even enjoy some aspects. It doesn’t mean that you will no longer need your people detox day or won’t be frightened right before you walk up to a new person but, you will get better.
You will meet people who you will click with right away and you will also have conversations where the conversation falls flat. That is just a part of life. Make notes of possible topics if it helps. Practice just greeting random people throughout your day to get used to talking to new people.
Just because we are shy and introverted, it does not mean we have to be stuck with awkward networking situations. We can actually learn to thrive and make the best of these situations even if we are unwilling.
Thanks for reading my rant,
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