The Introvert’s Guide to Networking

On: Sep 10, 2016
By: seryna
A lot of people find it surprising that I consider myself to be an introvert… you wouldn’t know it to chat with me. I’m not exactly SHY (see the pink hair!), and because of my theatre and improv training, I am good on my feet and handle social situations pretty well.

But on the inside? TOTAL FREAKIN’ MUSH. Like the quivering, wallflowery type of mush. (Especially now that I don’t use alcohol as a crutch for my social anxiety.)

On the Myers-Briggs scale I’m an ENFP, which suggests extroversion, sure, but I’m so barely an ‘E’ it’s hardly relevant. And my dominant trait is the ‘N’ (intuition) which is a very introverted trait. Pair that with being quite energetically sensitive and it makes for some social awkwardness.

So when I won The Next Top Speaker Contest I was not only going to be attending a 3-day networking event, but SPEAKING at it. Talk about pushing one’s boundaries, eh? Here’s what I’ve been doing in the months leading up to Shine Live to try to mitigate any internal awkwardness and social anxiety.

I recruited some business besties

Networking is a social thing, so who wants to do that alone? I tried to recruit some of my business besties to come with me, and when that didn’t pan out (3 days is  A LOT to ask), I reached out to my network to see who I knew in the online space who’d be attending. I also joined the Facebook group and made new online friends there, and we all got excited together. (Even posts about what we’d be wearing, and the importance of great shoes, etc). One gal described it as being like high school girls getting ready for the promo and it TOTALLY was.

I planned my own dinner

We start first thing on Wednesday morning, so everyone’s arriving Tuesday evening. Now, Shine Live is happening in Kelowna, the city I graduated high school in, and some of my good friends are still there. I contemplated hanging with them the first night, but then realized I’d be going in cold (aka: knowing no one in real life) Wednesday morning, which also happens to be the day I’m presenting. Nuh uh. I needed some comfort, a friend-type security blanket if you will. So, I organized a dinner! I mean, we’ve all gotta eat, right? At this dinner I invited a bunch of women I only know on Facebook, but whose work I’ve been admiring. (Two of them are presenters, actually.) Surround yourself with peeps who inspire you… it’ll help you bring your A-game, and these women TOTALLY do. We’re going to get together on the night before the event starts, and things will feel a bit less intimidating by the time I get up on stage.

Sidebar: I’ve also found some women who are staying at my hotel, and we’ve planned to walk into the event together too. We’re all flying solo, so this way we get to fly solo together. Feels cozy, I tell ya!

I built hype in my network

You know how you get people at an event you’re SUPER STOKED about? You never stop talking about it.

Even before I won a spot speaking at Shine Live, I was raving about how excited I was about the event. The presenters are killer, the topics we’ll be learning about are going to help me uplevel my biz, and the women attending are just la creme de la creme. For realz. Some of the people I know online are coming because I wouldn’t shut up about it. 🙂 And that feels good. More friendly faces, and I get to support an event I really believe in.

Remember what I say about loving your brand… enthusiasm is contagious… people can’t help but catch it. So make sure you’re attending events that really light you up and then yammer on about it until the cows come home.

I left room for downtime

I’m pretty passionate about self-care in general, but doubly so for introverts and sensitive types. Events with a lot of people (Shine Live’s got over 100) can be energetically taxing, so it’s important that you don’t overload yourself. Chantelle has given us 2 hour lunches, so I’ll spend some of that time in nature. A lot of my evenings are booked up, but I’ll make sure to get back to my hotel at a reasonable time to get enough rest.  I even opted to get a room by myself even though it would’ve been more fun/cost-effective to bunk with someone else. Sometimes, a gal’s just gotta have her space, and I gave myself that flexibility in case I needed some alone time to recharge.

Set some healthy boundaries for yourself, and don’t let FOMO make you break them. Make the most of your time at the event, but carve out time for you to recharge, especially on multi-day events and conferences. You won’t be doing yourself or anyone else any favours if you burn out. This goes doubly for solopreneurs whose business is entirely dependent on their ability to just. keep. swimming.

In my corporate days, I would burn out after conferences. Too much time being “on”, long days, toooo many people, and face aches from smiling too much. After one conference that I attended with a colleague I was less than fond of, I may have told the president that I’d considered breaking into the colleague’s room to smother him with a pillow. Let’s be honest, no one wants to work with THAT GUY (aka me). Okay… nobody wants to be that guy either. Being exhausted, over caffeinated, and over stimulated is fun for no one.

So there it is. Pace yourself. Surround yourself with peeps who inspire you. Spread your enthusiasm. Take initiative.

Easy peasy right?

And if you’re one of the peeps attending Shine Live, lemme know! We should totes get together while we’re there!! (You know, when I’m not on a self-directed time out to recharge.) 😉

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6 Comments

  1. Cyndee Moray

    Thank you for the great article, it is nice to read how others prepare for events and networking. Love the advice and will be following some of your suggestions, especially nature and taking it all in and lots of sleep. See you there and let’s get ready to shine!!

    Reply
    • seryna

      Hey Cyndee!
      So glad you found these helpful. Can’t wait to see you at Shine!! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Mona

    Love the article — and especially the way you created the dinner the night before and made arrangements to show up and walk in together. Cozy and lovely! Can’t wait to hear about your insights on the other side of the event, too. xo

    Reply
    • seryna

      Aww, thanks Mona!
      Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pooping my pants a bit over the event, but as it gets closer, I’m feeling more excitement and less terror. There’s so much to look forward to, that even the worst case scenarios my busy head can come up with aren’t that bad. 😉

      Reply
  3. Tara Wilder

    I’m just like you so I call myself a “sociable introvert”. I get EXHAUSTED at the end of a day full of networking. I don’t talk to my husband for 24 hours afterwards! 😉

    Congrats on the speaking gig! I love that you were so enthusiastic about it. A lot of interesting things came out of that!

    Omg, leaving the room for downtime is the only way I can survive through conferences I go to. I love the conferences I go to; so much good information and so many awesome people. But I can’t do those long sessions because the excitement exhausts me.

    These are some great tips. Thanks for the info!

    Reply
    • seryna

      Thanks so much, Tara! There’s definitely a lot of excitement, and a bit of nervousness… I’m not gonna lie.
      I think having been the gal who burnt out at events, I’ll be extra cautious of how I use my energy and pace myself a bit. (And with 2 hour lunches, here’s time for a nap if need be, hehe.)

      Reply
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