I am an introvert. I need alone time to survive and thrive. Too much company and large crowds deplete me.
When I was younger, I tried to ignore this. I’d go to all the parties, socialise, and try to be outspoken. It just wasn’t me.
I’m the type who generally prefers to be home alone, reading a fab book or watching a silly tv show. Silence and stillness energise me.
Don’t get me wrong, connection is important to me. But I’d prefer to do it one on one over coffee, or with a small group of close friends. A loud party or big event just doesn’t do it for me.
Over the years, I’ve learnt how to balance not being a hermit with not being a social Queen. And entering the world of business and the need to ‘network’ has given me further opportunity to practice this balance.
This article will outline 8 ways that I’ve learnt to protect my energy as I ‘network’ and socialise as an introvert.
Introvert Tip #1: Ask yourself – do you really want to do this?
In my younger days, I would say “yes” to invites because it felt like the right thing to do. I didn’t want to let the invitee down.
I have learnt as I’ve got older to put a stop to my Automatic Yes Machine and to think about whether I really want to go. Then came the hard part – practicing saying “no” or “yes, but only for an hour”. Putting boundaries into place. Enjoying life and friendships, without depleting my energy.
Introvert Tip #2: Reflect on WHY
It can also help, especially for business related events or meetings, to reflect on why you are going. Is it to celebrate a friend’s birthday? Is it to learn about something to do with business or blogging? Is it to connect with people who you’ve only otherwise met online?
I have found that when I have taken time out to reflect on what it is that I’m hoping to get out of an event, it helps me feel more prepared, to set boundaries, and to not have high expectations from my attendance.
If it’s just to learn, I don’t have to put a crazy expectation on myself to go and network my bottom off. If it’s to meet people I’ve connected with online at a big event, I can reach out beforehand and arrange for a catch up or meeting place, to take the edge off the nervousness of introducing myself at a large event. If it’s to celebrate a friend’s birthday, I can do so by going to their party or dinner, but skipping the nightclubbing part afterward.
Introvert Tip #3: Have an intro script
If I am going to meet new people, especially at a work meeting or event, I find it can help to take a few minutes out to prepare an introduction script. So that when it comes to that point where they go around the table and we say our name and what we do (and for some reason, getting very nervous about this), I don’t feel like I was put on the spot. Or when I’m at a blogging event, and people come and ask me what it is I blog about, I feel like I can respond naturally and confidently.
Introvert Tip #4: Have an exit strategy and script
Sometimes I am excited to go to an event, but know that I don’t want to be there too long. In the past, I have had extroverted friends who even when having a simple barbecue it would be almost a full day and evening affair. This little introvert would find this completely draining.
I found over time that it helped if I went to the event knowing approximately how long I was going to be there for and how I was going to exit with as little discomfort and stress as possible. This would often involve mentioning to my friend beforehand that I’d only be popping around for a little bit to say “hello”, so it wasn’t unexpected when I left after an hour or two. I would also sometimes purposefully have plans to help me feel more relaxed about leaving – a movie booked with my partner, work to do, someone to pick me up at a set time, or some other exit strategy to help me feel more relaxed about leaving when I was ready.
Introvert Tip #5: Try not to put pressure on yourself
I make a conscious effort to not put pressure on myself when I go to big events, especially when it involves meeting new people or networking. I don’t set expectations where I must behave like someone that I’m not, or that I must meet a set number of new people, or behave a certain way. That way, when I go to the event, and spend most of it alone up the back of the room and skipping the big networking events, I don’t feel bad about it or like I’m missing out on anything! I focus on my WHY and consciously remind myself not to worry about what other people think if it doesn’t align with their why.
Introvert Tip #6: Be organised and prepared
Now this might just be a personal thing and not necessarily an introvert thing – but I find it helps calm my nerves when I am prepared. I like to arrive at a social or business event on time, have my clothes chosen, and anything else I need organised, including my exit strategy and any scripts prepared. It also helps if I’ve reached out to a mutual friend who is going or who is interested in going beforehand, so that I have a buddy or ally to join forces with. Being organised and prepared in this way helps this nervous little introvert enjoy herself much more when she makes it to the crowded event or activity.
Introvert Tip #7: Take breaks when needed
When at a big event or social setting, I regularly take time out to help energise myself. I might sneak away and have some quiet time outside or in the bathroom. Or find a friend to hide away and chat to quietly for a moment. Actively looking for moments to retreat and reenergise is my rescue remedy.
If you are an introvert like me, I hope that these tips help you enjoy social and networking situations more. I’d love to know in the comments below – what are you going to try next time, or do you have any other tips that might help our fellow introverts?
Let’s soar together,