How to Rock a Networking Event When You’re an Introvert
“You like me, you REALLY like me!” (Accepting my awesomeness award at the awesome convention…if there was an awesome convention. Which there really should be. Seriously.)
While dreaming about great vibes and success can be quite the aphrodisiac, I must say experiencing the real thing is so much better!
I had the amazing opportunity to attend Launch Haven at The Grove in New Haven, CT this past monday evening, and it put a smile on my face. It’s amazing what can be created in such a collaborative atmosphere. I was running around with fellow entrepreneurs getting excited and ready to take on New Haven’s Start-Up Weekend in November. I saw an SEO guy do a jig at the end of his pitch, was awestrucked by the compassion and drive of a young middle school entrepreneur, and even pitched a potential start-up idea in front of a crowd of inspiring and supportive entrepreneurs. I got so many compliments on my pitch, one of my favorites was someone coming up to me saying I was charismatic and I had the skills to influence a crowd!
The craziest part about the night, wasn’t the amazing connection I had opening up to a room full of passionate experts in their field. It wasn’t the way that my stage presence (Thank you Theatre Teachers from Co-op!) commanded the room through my pitch. It was the split second thought of not attending at all!
You might not know this, but I can be quite the introvert. Situations where I have to enter a room full of strangers talking in groups scare me more than the movie The Exorcist (and The Exorcist is a pretty scaring movie!). It feels like an elementary school playground full of people who might judge me or be mean. Which when you think about it, is a really irrational fear or thought. Most people are too busy with their own careers to try to put someone else down.
So, for a straight week before the event I was trying to get someone to go with me. Anyone! The Universe has a funny way of making you face your fears, because all of my friends who would go to an event like that happened to be busy that evening. I’ve been writing a lot about learning to be fearless and following your dreams, and this moment was my “real life” test of that. I knew that going to this event was only going to help me, and that if I could just be brave for 30 minutes I’ll be able to feel comfortable enough to handle the whole evening. 30 minutes of bravery can seem like an eternity when you are scared out of your mind, but anything worth it’s salt in this world is hidden behind what we fear the most. So I pushed past my fear of being an awkward turtle at the networking event and set out to attend with my confidence and inner strength on my sleeve. Getting out of your comfort zone is where the adventure and the fun begins, and I had a blast that evening!
Networking events can bring out our inner insecurities about our business and our role in it, especially when we go forth with forced sales pitches, inauthentic communication, and sweaty palms! The good thing to keep in mind is that a good majority of the crowd is in the same boat as you. They don’t know everyone and many of them aren’t even extroverts. So it’s not as scary as a scenario as we can imagine it to be. Even introverts can be extroverted, and even extroverts can be introverted. It’s part of our dynamic humanity. The key is to not let insecurities about performing stop us from getting out there and making the best of a situation. When I walked into the room and presented a strong body posture and dived deeper into my inner-resolve that is when I started feeling okay about the situation. It’s a thing called fake it until you make it, and believe me you will make it! It’s funny how all the fears that my ego was trying to feed me, turned out to just be irrational fears, they never came true and disappeared from the forefront of my mind when I made the attempt to move past them.
As I started to go through the first 30 minutes of my time there, the first 10-15 mins were, I’ll be blunt, agonizing! But miraculously, it got better and better once I started to introduce myself to more people. A smile and a firm handshake can go a long way. It eventually got to the point where I felt great in that situation. I actually thrived! I think we spend more time in the stage fright zone worrying about what “might” happen, than just getting out there and taking charge of our own realities. I’m proud of myself that I noticed my fear, and that I didn’t let it stop me from doing something helpful for my career. I noticed it, and then I kept it moving!
It’s okay to feel uneasy or scared of different situations, especially ones that are so linked with your career and business, but what’s not okay is to say no to a opportunitiy because of an idea that you have about the situation blocking it. Get out there and network!
Best of Love!
Amanda Rivera is a digital marketing consultant and the founder of Inspiremecafe.com. She has her Masters in Corporate PR and has been published in the Summer 2013 issue of the Law of Attraction Magazine. Tweet her: @amandarivc // @Inspireme_cafe
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