10 Ways Introverts Can Survive and Thrive in a World of Networking and Self-Promotion
As an introvert, navigating a world that demands constant networking and self-promotion can be daunting. But being an introvert doesn’t mean you have to avoid these situations altogether. With a few tips and tricks, you can not only survive but also thrive in social situations. Here are 10 ways introverts can conquer their fears and succeed in a world of networking and self-promotion.
1. Take Breaks
Taking breaks is the most important thing you can do to help yourself deal with a large group of strangers or people you are not yet comfortable with. Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, run out to the car to “get something,” or get some fresh air. It’s important to take five or ten minutes and give yourself a chance to compose yourself, gather your thoughts, or psych yourself up for the next round of small talk.
2. Learn the Tricks of Small Talk
If you know a little about the people who will be at an event you’re attending, then do your best to make a mental note of a few likes and dislikes. If you’re at a car collector’s meeting, it’s likely you can start off a conversation with almost anyone by saying, “What kind of cars do you collect?” Alternatively, keep a list of potential topics close at hand (in your head). If you don’t know anything at all, eavesdrop a bit. Listen to what others are talking about and chime into the conversation. At least participating in the conversation will get the event over faster than if you just sit in the corner.
3. Take on a Job
The best way to deal with large groups, particularly strangers, is to take on a job at the event. Cook something. Move the chairs and tables. Pick up the trash. Get a camera and make yourself the official photographer. Be the bartender. Having something useful to do is the best way to participate without having to generate small talk or approach people unnecessarily.
4. Expect Change
The last thing an introvert wants to hear is that more people are coming, the venue has moved, or the date has changed. Expect things to change and be flexible. If you anticipate that something will go “wrong,” it will make you better able to deal with it when it happens.
5. Recognize the Shutdown
It happens to introverts all the time. You’ve been at an event for a while, and you really start to crave crawling behind the couch and disappearing. This is the shutdown. When it starts to happen, take a deep breath, and remove yourself from the situation.
6. Drink Coffee
According to Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, coffee will deliver you from self-doubt. It gets you excited about new ideas and helps you ignore the chorus of judgers inside your head. It propels your thinking and helps you make connections between seemingly unrelated things. Hence, the saying that “a mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.”
7. Go to Evening Events
Cortisol is a stress hormone that peaks during the morning. Attending events in the evening keeps your nervousness down just as your stress levels are reaching their lowest levels of the day. Decreased cortisol can help you cope with stressful situations better.
8. Bring an Extrovert
Know a friend who is extroverted? Probably. Most introverts tend to find extroverted friends. In fact, if you’re headed to a large gathering, it’s likely at the behest of an extrovert in your life. Bring this extrovert with you and they can introduce you to people, get chatty, and help you stay away from the buffet table alone.
9. Stand Confidently
Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, suggests taking on high-power poses such as standing tall with your legs spread and your hands on your hips. This stimulates testosterone and cortisol and can help you feel more confident in a room full of strangers.
10. Team up with Another Introvert
Is there someone else lurking along the edges of the conversation? Find this person, make eye contact and start a conversation. Perhaps you can introduce each other to other people in the room and get each other going on a night of extroversion.
As an introvert, dealing with social situations can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to avoid them. By taking breaks, learning the tricks of small talk, taking on a job, expecting change, recognizing the shutdown, drinking coffee, attending evening events, bringing an extrovert, standing confidently, and teaming up with another introvert, you can navigate these situations with ease. Remember, it’s important to be yourself and not feel pressured to change who you are. Embrace your introversion and let it empower you.