I wrote an article about what you go through when you're an extroverted-introvert, and what traits you carry set you apart from others and how.
That article has had me thinking about how high my anxiety gets when I have to unleash my extroverted side. This typically happens at networking events.
I consider myself an extrovert and an introvert because although I hate crowds and have a certain level of anxiety when placed in unfamiliar territory, I also have a vibrant personality and love meeting new people and experiencing new things.
However, my introverted side has previously gotten in the way of me going to events I really wanted to attend.
But because I love to be informed about various things, and networking events give me a chance to meet people and risk coming outside of my comfort zone, I'm determined to go when the opportunity arises.
Before I continue, let me say this: I commend all introverts, whether you're fully introverted or partly, for having the courage to come face-to-face with situations you never thought you would (or could) survive.
It takes a lot of guts to get all dressed up, swallow your nerves and try and be brave in a room full of people you automatically assume are going to judge you. So hats off to you, because you're one step ahead.
Just this weekend I went to a mental health awareness event I've been wanting to attend for a year now.
I couldn't go with my mom and no one else was free, so I went alone.
I panicked a little and wondered whether I would be OK, because as us introverts know, everything we do is always a scene in our head before the actual event.
But because mental health is a subject near and dear to my heart, I said screw my nerves, I'm going.
I kept reminding myself I have a sense of self-worth and I deserve to be at the event just as much as anyone else. Despite this, my nerves were definitely there, but I strategized ways to cope throughout the evening.
Here are six tips to help introverts survive during networking events:
1. Dress for success.
Regardless of the event, or whether or not the dress code requires you to look your best, you should.
Looking your best will make you feel good, and it'll give you the extra confidence you need to talk to people face-to-face.
I felt like I was ready to give a TED Talk when I got dressed for this event, there's something so powerful about what looking good can do for your self-esteem.
2. Start a conversation with literally anyone in your reach.
As soon as I arrived at the event I began talking to someone at the door, and then once inside I proceeded to talk to the woman next to me.
Now, I know what you're thinking: How can an introvert start a conversation with someone? But it's totally possible as long as you start small.
Comment on the weather outside, or discuss what you know about the event. I've learned people really aren't as mean as we make them out to be in our heads.
Out of all the people you'll face in a packed room, at least one other person is nervous and willing to talk to you.
3. Browse around the tables set up outside.
The key for any introvert is to stay busy.
We hate the idea of being idle because then we feel alone with our anxious thoughts and start to believe we look lonely and awkward.
Stopping at information tables allows you to turn the tables over to the person running the booth. They're the ones full of information.
You ask questions and they answer, usually with in-depth explanations and details that will take the focus off of you. Most importantly, you'll learn something and meet new people at these booths.
4. If you can, try not to leave right away.
Although introverts possess an inner, quiet confidence, being an introvert also makes us feel like we're different from everyone else. It makes us want to run away from every situation.
To lessen this feeling of defeat, try staying around a little longer once the event is finished so you can get an extra boost of confidence knowing you didn't leave and you tried your best to cope.
If you got to know someone there and they stuck around, grab them and talk for a bit. If you don't know anyone, talk to the people running the booths.
5. Participate in the Q&A segment at least once.
How can an introvert do this?
Well I'm an introvert and I'm telling you, you can. If there's one thing you take from this it should be that everyone around you feels the same nervousness you feel -- some people just hide it better.
Making a step like speaking up in a Q&A is huge, it'll boost your confidence and make you feel like you've conquered the night.
When this part comes along, remember you look good, you're intelligent and capable, and then boom, go for it. Remember, you only have to do this once if that's what you're comfortable with.
6. It all comes with time and practice.
Finally, don't beat yourself up for feeling like your nerves got the best of you at at least once during the event.
You're extremely brave for even going in the first place. You're strong, you're capable and you can conquer all your fears, one event at a time.