I’m an introverted extrovert. Or maybe an extroverted introvert. I’m not sure. But I’m pretty sure I sit directly on the line between the two.
For example, I get energized spending time with people I love. But at the same time, I get crazy anxiety at the thought of walking into a room full of strangers. No seriously. The thought alone makes me queasy.
Being a Communicator, I find myself at plenty of events that involve networking. We love networking. I try to pretend to like it, but every time I feel like a giant spotlight is on me as I awkwardly hover, trying to join conversations.
This past week, I had two social events to attend where I didn’t really know people. In both cases, I came close to chickening out. All of a sudden, I wasn’t feeling well. I was tired. I had a long day. It would be easier to just go home.
But then the “choosing butterflies” mantra played in my head. And I begrudgingly walked through the door, smiled, and pretended to look less awkward than I felt.
And both times, everything was fine. In fact, I enjoyed myself. I had some great conversations, discovered some mutual connections, and heard some fascinating stories. All things I love and would’ve missed out on.
So here are some things I’ve found useful in going from anxiety spiral to enjoyment in these social settings.
- Arrive early. It’s a lot less intimidating to walk into a room with a few strangers compared to a room full of them.
- Put your phone away. This is the hardest one for me. My phone is an adult security blanket. But no one wants to interrupt someone who is typing on a phone.
- Find a friend. There’s probably another person who doesn’t know anyone either. If they make eye contact, smile and say hi. They’ll be grateful that you did.
- Remember that everyone else in the room didn’t know each other at some point. There is always an extrovert out there who will invite you into their conversation. And if you are that extrovert, invite that hoverer into your conversation. They will be so thankful!
- Worst case scenario – it’s only a few hours of your life. You will get through it.
Are you introverted or extroverted? How do you handle networking like this?