Three networking and party tricks for the shy
Have you ever been invited to a group event, a party or an official networking opportunity and you sweat with fear when you imagine the foyer and yourself in it? Then the following tricks are for you, because yes, there are efficient ways to reduce that stress.
On SmallBigChange.com you can find different tips for networking, including what to talk about in small talk, and how to present yourself if you lack working experience. For now, we will focus on the moments before any talk starts.
What can you do if you neither want to stand there alone for the whole event nor feel confident enough to walk towards a group of people and introduce yourself?
1. Be among the first to arrive
I was given this useful piece of advice recently when I was practising trick number three and making small talk with somebody who was probably as shy as me, during the coffee break of a training course.
His recommendation for networking was: “If you are rather shy, arrive among the first. By doing this you will avoid entering a room full of people who have already grouped.”
Then you will either approach an individual instead of a group, or be grabbed by the host, or be approached by somebody arriving after you.
2. Encourage others
You would not mind having a talk, but it scares you to imagine walking towards somebody and initiating the conversation? You don´t have to walk anywhere, just show you are open to being approached.
You know how it feels and how much courage it requires to walk towards somebody. Thus you want to make it easier for those who consider coming towards you but have their own fears. Encourage them.
How can you do that? First of all: put away that mobile phone, tablet or any other ‘bunker’ you have chosen to hide in. Nobody, (or nobody polite), will start a conversation with you while you look as though you’re writing a very urgent text message.
The next step: your body posture. Turn your torso towards the room and the people. Uncross your arms and legs. Even if it is usually unconscious, closed body posture can be interpreted as your unwillingness to be approached.
Now, have a look around and see who else is doing the same as you: being alone and checking the room. Have your eyes met? Great. Connect: a nice look, or a smile, turning your torso towards the person will do the trick. If the other person is not too shy or already involved in a conversation with someone else, she or he might try to approach you.
3. Approach the shy
This is a trick I have applied and tested for years. It is quite easy to do it, because any room with people will for sure include some introverts and shy people, even when it is a party of movie actors, ambassadors or trainers for public speaking.
So have another look around the room, with special focus on those who are standing along the walls, those taking a drink very quickly or very slooooowly, and those who are holding mobiles, but seem ready to put them away.Check any of the places where you would normally hide.
Choose somebody who seems likeable or on a similar (shy?) vibe as you and try to make a non-verbal connection: react to her/his smile or look at the person and be the first to smile. Check the reaction. Doesn´t it work with the first person? Well, it might be they are busy with other people or thoughts, or simply have not got through trick number 2 yet, so try it with someone else. If it works that time, then try to approach the person and start a talk.
Have you noticed what all the tricks have in common?
Awareness that many people at any gathering are somewhat shy, or used to be, and that they know the feeling.
Recognition that it is mainly up to you whether you get approached by other people: you have a huge influence on it through your non-verbal communication that will either encourage or discourage others.
Non-verbal interaction is at least as important as verbal.