Extroverts have responsibilities, so do introverts
I appreciate Gary Picariello’s recent editorial, “Extroverts have a surprising responsibility at networking events, because extroverts can be overwhelming for introverts like me. But I’d like to offer the same advice for introverts (like me) – that is, that you have a responsibility to step out of your comfort zone and make connections.
Will it be easy? Nope. But it will be worth it. Now, you’re probably wondering how you can do this. There are ways to manage your stress and anxiety at having to be in the crowd.
1. Bring support
I’m no stranger to crowds. When my kids were younger, I managed the vendors for the home school convention in Oklahoma. We had over 100 booths. This was not a small event. I’m also an introvert. One of the things that helped me more than anything was to have a wingman. For me, it was my husband, but you could bring a co-worker or friend when you’re going to a networking event. Try to find someone who isn’t an introvert, but understands your personality. Don’t get clingy, but your wingman open connections and help you shut down the really pushy people.
2. Go behind the scenes
I was able to meet with industry leaders simply because I was on the team that was in charge. This actually brought people to me, which lessoned my stress. Being a volunteer can open those doors more easily than just being an attendee at an event. You don’t need to make hundreds of connections when you’re networking. When you focus on just one or two, these relationships can actually be more meaningful. Even introverts need relationships. The people who I developed deep relationships with changed my life in ways they’ll never know.
3. Plan to rest later
Thomas Merton wrote “No Man Is an Island” and I’d like to say that includes introverts. Make plans to go to a networking event and crack the shell of your reluctance to talk to people. Take time to refresh at the end of the day. Manage your schedule during the conference or convention so that you do have time to be the introvert. It’s okay to be introverted, but your path will be easier when you do have connections.