“Introverts are shy. They don’t know how to be social.” COMPLETELY FALSE. People forget that introverts are actually social individuals. They can hold a conversation, they also enjoy going out, they have the capacity to be interact with people and they won’t freak out in front of large crowds. Don’t go on assuming an introvert won’t know how to communicate normally. In definition, introverts are people who prefer their own company and thoughts. They don’t depend on external or social interactions of others. As a marketing director and community director for a networking company, I actually consider myself an introvert. This doesn’t mean that I dread the collective encounters of large groups of strangers. Even though I find complete solace in a days where I can postmates all my meals to read & binge watch shows in the isolation of my own home, I actually enjoy meeting new people. Though I wish I can just walk into a crowded room and people automatically know who I am and what I do, it just doesn’t work that way. Working in the professional world, your connections are everything. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, “It’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know.” I’ll admit that there are times where networking just takes a little bit more out of me. I mentally prepare for a networking event that I host each month.Well, for all you fellow introverts out there here’s how to put yourself out there:
Remember that everyone is on the same playing field
Everyone feels awkward at networking events. And I mean everyone. Even the guy who is talking up a storm with everyone has a moment of uncertainty when approaching a complete stranger. If you level the playing field with the people in the room, the more the nerves with subside. Intimidation is a real bummer especially to one’s self-esteem. Don’t let self-doubt or fear hinder your opportunity to meet someone worth meeting. During my networking events, I’ve met a variety of outstandingly interesting people. I’ve met music producers, app developers, travelers, shoe makers, engineers who believe they are going to save the world with their new discovery of renewable energy, and more. If you’re intimidated by a person’s job title, don’t be. Remember that person came out for the same reason you did so introducing yourself isn’t out of the ordinary. If they didn’t want to talk to you, they shouldn’t have come to that event in the first place.
Small talk, is well…small. However, don’t be afraid to start there. Some are terrorized by the fear of the conversation awkwardly disseminating to those horrifying silences. What helps is easing into conversations with the small talk: company, profession, what exactly do they do, etc. Then from there, you can take the conversation into so many different directions! How, you may ask? Be curious! How did they get to where they are now? Was it something they’ve always wanted to do? Was that their passion? If not, what is? Do they like what they do? Why don’t they like what they do? Do they have any other passion? What do they do outside of work? You’ll be surprised how being curious about their life will get you into deep conversations sometimes. Treat the conversation as a casual, informal interview. You’re digging deeper of what this person’s story is. This is why journalists are natural conversationalists. They ask questions because they are naturally curious about the person. Now, you may not care what they do and might lose interest in the middle of their stories and that’s fine. You can end the conversation right there with, “Thank you for sharing that, it was so nice meeting you. Can I get a card?”. You can speed up the conclusion by telling them that you’ll add them on LinkedIn or Facebook (new friends/ connections don’t hurt even though they aren’t relevant to you!). You never know, you might need that person later on down the road.
You have something to offer.
Just as you are looking for that one connection that will give you your big break, someone out there is looking for a person like you. Some are threatened by the fact that there are well established professionals who, they think, won’t bother with the likes of them. On the contrary, businesses these days are looking for new, young, fresh-minded individuals who are willing to be coached and trained. On the other side of that thought, some might think they are too old to be interacting with such a innovative crowd. There might be some who are looking for the well-experienced. Everyone just has to remember that they have something to offer. If you don’t have the knowledge, you have to show them (and to yourself) that you have the tenacity to get it. There is no age limit for someone to have determination and drive. Many have the talent and experience, but few have the hustle and grit. Don’t think that you’re the only person in the room that has to prove something. There will be others that will be curious about you and take an interest in what you do. If you remember that you’re just as equal as the person you’re talking to or wanting to talk to, they will naturally flock to you. Just try it. You are definitely someone worth meeting. People will believe it if you do.
Need a place to practice? Come out to one of OC’s prominent networking mixers sponsored by Google and hosted by Silicon Beach Young Professionals. Meet & mingle on April 13 at the Aqua Lounge in the Island Hotel in Irvine. Tech startups are featured but all professions and industries are welcome! Register now before tickets run out!
OCTECH & STARTUP NETWORKING MIXER ORANGE COUNTY
Thurs. April 13, 2017 | 6PM -9PM
Aqua Lounge Island Hotel Irvine