Introverts are amazing. We’re thinkers, planners, organisers, analysts and creatives all rolled into one. We strive for meaningful connections with people as well as total alone time. But we ain’t perfect, and there’s plenty of situations where an introverted entrepreneur may just find themselves out of their comfort zone.
- Teamwork events, etc etc etc
As you may be able to relate to, all these scenarios involve some form of social interaction with a group of like-minded entrepreneurs. With people that aren’t your friends and family. This is a major energy-drain for us introverts and we often feel the nerves, even dread in the days leading up to such an event. For some, it can mean delaying or not going at all.
But these events are awesome opportunities for your business growth. I know I don’t go to as many networking events as I should, and as a result I am missing out on some great collaboration opportunities as well as mentor possibilities, new skills and all the fresh ideas that spawn from such social gatherings. I know this from the few events I’ve mustered the courage to actually go to.
So I’ve made a promise to go to at least two networking events between now and the end of the year, and in the spirit of sticking to my goals, I listed some things I recognised about myself as an introvert that impacts my enjoyment at these types of events, and how to overcome them to stay energised and motivated.
So here are my top 7 pick-me-up tricks so you and I can network, collaborate, learn, grow and socialise without our introverted clouds hanging heavy over our heads.
1: Recognise it’s not an ‘anti-social’ thing
Sometimes it can be a bit of a burden being an introvert. Many people often dismiss you as ‘quiet’, ‘anti-social’ and ‘withdrawn’. They try to fix you, bring you out of your shell. Over time this can leave a pretty big dent in your confidence, and you start to believe you’re not a sociable person. But that doesn’t have to be the case at all. Recognise your nerves, anticipation and anxiety are because you know it drains your energy, not because you don’t want to be there.
By accepting and realising that, you can start to shift your way of thinking. “Yeah I have some nerves about this thing and I’m scared of being around such a large number of people, but I know I want to be here, it’s good for my business, and my nerves purely stem from the fact that this environment drains my energy resources quicker than others.”
It’s a simple thing to recognise, but a powerful one at that, and it can really boost your confidence at attending these types of events.
2: Prepare the night before
Don’t be rushing around flustered, with no idea what you’re wearing, your notes everywhere, phone not charged, etc. It creates stress before you’ve even got there. And trust me that stress will carry through all day. So get your outfit ready, your travel documents if needed and charge your laptop and phone. Get your notes in order and go over some of the key things you want to take away from the day. Do all that the night before. Then set yourself an alarm and get an early night. Nothing like a clear head and a good night sleep to put you in the right frame of mind for a day of balancing your stress levels and energy.
3: Meditate beforehand
The scientific backing that meditation is getting these days is astounding. Being able to re-wire your brain to be able to think clearer, calmer and with less anxiety is within our reach. I truly believe meditation should form part of your daily routine. What’s great about meditation is it can mean something different to everyone. It ain’t about sat in cobblers pose, chanting and praying (unless you want it to be!) For me, it means single-tasking everything I do with 200% concentration.
So, get ready slowly, and with intention. Concentrate fully on the simple task of brushing your hair, or eating your breakfast for instance. Every time your mind wanders, just recognise it and bring it back to the task at hand. Before you head off, take 10 minutes to sit, fully ready to go, with nothing more to do. Use something like the Calm app, or Headspace, and just have a few moments to yourself, to listen to your surroundings, let your mind wander and then bring back to your breathe. Over time this will truly start to change the way you see stressful scenarios and you’ll approach a lot of similar situations calmer and with more positivity as a result.
4: Find 5 minutes of alone time
Ok so you showed up, go you! Now to last the entire event and keep conversation going the whole time. In my old job, I used to have to go to a lot of travel conferences where there’d be so much going on; stands from all the different countries, various talks and workshops, meetings etc. It was overwhelming. And in keeping with this energy-balancing act introverts struggle with, lots of small-talk drains it like nothing else. It’s difficult repeating the same stuff over and over again, right?
“Hi my names Charlie and I create nature-inspired stock photography, how about you? Oh hi there, my names Charlie and I create nature-inspired stock photography, how about you? Hey nice to meet you, my names Charlie and I create nature-inspired stock photography, how about you? Oh hello again, my names Charlie and I create nat- oh”
Don’t feel the need to keep going all day. Excuse yourself, nip to the toilet, pretend to make a call if you have to! Just go and find somewhere you can take 5 minutes to not speak, not think, just breathe. It may even mean nipping back your hotel room, or your car. It doesn’t matter – just have some time to re-charge and go back in fresh-faced and energised.
5: Leave when you’re done
Often social events can last forever. And then some. In the spirit of not wanting to miss out on a single connection or possibility, it can lead to you never knowing when to actually call it a day. Learning to say ‘I’m done’ to yourself is the mark of an entrepreneur who knows what he or she wants. It shows confidence in your abilities as a new entrepreneur and a sense of self-security. You got what you came here for, you made a few connections and/or learnt something along the way. That’s enough. Leave on a high and you’ll leave a much better impression.
On that note it’s also worth accepting that some events you go to that simply weren’t a good move. If no one in there is in anyway going to provide a benefit to you or vice versa, accept it as a learning and politely say your goodbyes. Your energy resource will thank you for being able to crack on with meaningful tasks rather than pursuing connections that’ll do nothing for you or your business.
6: Ask more than answer
The thing introverts are great at is listening. We love to take the back-seat and take it all in. It’s where we can analyse, think of solutions, problem solve and come up with new ideas. It’s withdrawing to our own space where the magic really happens. Unfortunately in a social setting, you don’t get a lot of opportunity for that. Especially when you’re meeting new people. Everyone just wants to know what everyone else is doing, and in turn, shout out about what they’re doing. It’s great really, but again, it’s an energy drain.
The beautiful thing is, if you’re speaking to a more extroverted person, they tend to love to talk about what they do. It’s one of their biggest strengths. So there’s a great opportunity to use this to your advantage. Whenever you’re talking to someone, answer their question without needing to go into much detail, and then flip the question back at them. Not only do you get to refuel, but you also get to really understand that persons business, and how you may help them. It also creates a sense of intrigue and curiosity about your business, leading to those deeper and more meaningful connections we introverts excel at.
7: Pat yourself on the back
Well done you! If you decided to implement these tips, and went to an event – even if you didn’t make the greatest connections in the world, make sure you do a mini celebration with yourself after. Recognise the step you took for your business today, and allow your confidence to soar as a result. Say to yourself: “Today, was a good day!”.
It’s important to recognise our successes, even the mini ones. It instills value in the smaller jobs we’re doing for our business, even if all you managed was to say hi to another (possibly introverted and terrified) entrepreneur and swap business cards. Every step you make for your business, no matter how small, is moving you forward.
And there you have it! My top 7 ways I use to keep me energised in stressful situations. I plan to truly implement these tips into the networking events I will attend later this year.
Do you have any tips for energising yourself as an introvert? Do you find any of the above help? Comment below!