Recently, Sue Walton started a fantastic thread on MeCo, confessing that while she’s talkative with friends and colleagues, she clams up around strangers. I immediately felt a connection to her – I am exactly the same! Can’t shut up around my friends, but can’t open up around others.
Seems that Sue and I aren’t the only two who feel this way. It has been a very popular topic over the past few days on MeCo, and some great tips, tricks, thoughts and stories have been shared.
Focus on the Other Person
Andrea Gold, president of the Gold Stars Speakers Bureau and MeCo associate moderator, offered many helpful tips based on her own battle with shyness. The one that I liked best was:
Focus on the other person… GENUINELY take interest in the person with whom you are interacting… Be a great listener, and ask questions about that person.
What an empowering thought! If you dread networking because you can’t imagine what you’ll say to someone, just think about Andrea’s advice! You don’t have to think of anything interesting to say – just ask the other person questions and get them talking.
One more thought that Andrea shared that has occured to me, too – there are other shy people out there, just waiting for someone to say hello to them. Be that someone! Save a fellow shy person from a night of wishing they had just talked to a single person by inviting them to talk to you! I know I’m always grateful when someone introduces themself to me and begins a conversation.
In researching this topic a bit further, I found some additional online resources that you may find helpful.
An excellent resource is a blog called Power Networking for Introverts by Marcy Phelps, founder and president of Phelps Research. Unfortunately, Marcy has decided not to continue writing new content, but the tips she has out there are fantastic.
Here are some additional articles I found using a Google search on tips for shy people.
Making Small Talk
How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People
Skip Haley’s Networking Tips for Introverts
Networking Tips for the Timid
Why Shy People Make Great Networkers
Networking for Shy People (a PDF)
What advice do you have for a shy person entering a networking situation?