People who know me seem surprised when I identify myself as a “shy” person, so apparently I’m good at hiding the intense panic that ensues at the thought of walking into a group of people I don’t know and introducing myself. I recall, almost fondly now, my first networking event when I was just 22, working as a marketing coordinator for an engineering firm. I talked to the people serving appetizers for about 5 minutes, then hid in the bathroom until I felt I could justify leaving. Not the most auspicious start to a networking career.
And now, some number of years later (greater than 10 and less than 15) I still get that nervous feeling before I go to a networking event. My brain conveniently catalogs all the ways in which I am inadequate and lame and the others likely to be in that room are wiser, prettier and smarter. The good news is, I am usually able to overcome this irritating habit my brain has and connect with people anyway. My favorite thing is to try to find the most pained looking person who I gamble is feeling just like me. I approach them and try to bond a little over the anxiety these events produce. Once we are talking and laughing a bit, someone else invariably comes up to introduce themselves and thus the networking begins.
There are lots of other tips and tricks in the articles below and I encourage you to check them out if you have nerves surrounding networking. This Thanksgiving may also be a great time to practice some of your skills if you are going to be with family who you don’t see often or with a large group. Then attend some fun networking groups over the next few weeks. Here are some of my favorites:
Working Women’s Wednesday – a happy hour style networking event at Fused Lounge and Grill in Hesperia.
Face 2 Face Networking – another happy hour style networking event – only costs $5 at the door, Thursdays at Karma.
Small Business Breakfast Club – a monthly breakfast featuring a short inspiring conference call with Hall of Fame NFL player and entrepreneur Fran Tarkenton and plenty of quality networking. It’s free and the tasty but optional breakfast is $7. The next one is 12/14 at 7:30 am at the Comfort Suites in Victorville.
Here are some more articles on overcoming networking when you’re shy: