don’t shy away from this

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.

Shyness Abounds
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. 

More Resources
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.

Another helpful site is Shake Your Shyness.  It has a tips page that offers some simple steps to help shy folks open up a bit.

Curt Rosengren offers up a post about this very topic with a long list of links he’s compiled over the years, on his blog, The M.A.P. Maker.

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?

3 thoughts on “don’t shy away from this

  1. Thanks for putting together this great resource for shy folks like me! One that someone on MeCo mentioned that I thought was great was to show up early, before everyone’s already paired off. Because I dread the things, I tend to procrastinate and show up late. Then I’m completely intimidated by the thought of trying to break into an existing conversation. Next time I’ll try showing up early and see if that helps.

    I also really like the idea of providing a “meeting mentor” to newbies, someone who will show them around, introduce them to others, and generally make them feel at home. Actually, let’s extend the service beyond newbies to anyone who could use a little help getting acclimated.

    Looking forward to poking through all those links–thanks again.

  2. Sue – showing up early DOES help! I’ve done that on a number of occasions, and it really does make a difference. It’s so much easier to speak to someone as they’re arriving and getting acclimated.

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