Meeting new people as an introvert is challenging. We are known to be quiet. We don’t like to make small talk.
So how do you meet people when you are an introvert?
Most people go to networking events to talk. I go to networking events to be quiet.
Recently, I had gone to a few networking events on Meetup.com. I know that building network is important for an entrepreneur and my business. However, it felt super unnatural for me as an introvert to interact in a setting where socializing is the main activity.
It was not until I decided to be quiet did I feel more at ease.
Networking for Introverts: The Fish Out of Water
Going to a networking event is an interesting affair for introverts.
Introverts enjoy their own company. They love to do things on their own and have things to do when they are alone. But when you put them with a large group of people, they don’t know what to do.
I remembered my first networking event in March. I was like a fish out of water. Everyone got into small clusters naturally, and started talking and sharing what they do. I circled in the center of the room instead, not knowing what to do. I didn’t know where should I sit or stand. I didn’t know which group to join and how to interrupt the group. I didn’t know what to say or ask.
So I kept walking in circles until I ran into another guy who was also walking in circles. We chatted for a quite a bit before another guy joined the conversation. And then another person joined. And another and another…
Soon, the group had gotten so big that I slipped back into my listening role.
Why Is It Good For Me to Be Quiet?
After going for a couple of networking events, I realized that not only it’s okay to be quiet. There are actually some advantages of being quiet in a networking session.
Listen, observe and be myself.
Being quiet allows me to do what I do best – listen. Last week, I went to a start-up networking event and I just listened. From other people’s conversation, I found out the common problems and struggles that entrepreneurs were facing and I was able to learned from their experiences and mistakes. This information was extremely valuable because now I know what to avoid for my start-up.
Being quiet also allows me to observe. Not only am I listening to what other people are saying, I’m also looking at their body language and listening for meanings behind their words. Through observation, I’m also able to find out about the other party’s strengths and weaknesses. From there, I can tell if the other party is someone who I can potentially work with.
But most importantly, being quiet allows me to be myself. I’m like this when I’m hanging out with my group of friends. I don’t talk much. I prefer to listen and only chip in when appropriate. I’m very thrifty with words when it comes to talking. And that’s just me.
This is what I called self-acceptance.
Creating a Unique Brand for Myself
Some people sell themselves by being energetic and passionate. I sell myself being mysterious. The more people don’t know about me, the more interest I create. And why sell to someone who don’t want to know more? Those people who approach me and ask me questions are people who are interested to find out more. It’s easier to talk to people who want to listen.
I used to hate being the wallpaper that no one else notice. Now, I see my worth and value being the back-end person. I have the best ideas and produce the best work when I work independently in the background. And because I’m so quiet, when I do talk, people tend to listen to and value what I have to say.
Being quiet is a brand.
If I can’t be the funniest, loudest or the most inspirational, why not be the quietest! Being quiet is a brand. In this noisy online marketplace where everyone is striving for attention, being quiet differentiates yourself from others.
Therefore, I strive to be this weird guy who goes to networking events and don’t talk. :)