Networking solutions: Introversion, shyness and social anxiety
Although Introversion, social anxiety and shyness are often mistaken for each other, every one of them is unique and needs to be understood singly. Which is why a few months ago, I interviewed three amazing people; a medical doctor @docayomide with years of experience working in and dealing with mental health; an expert on the 4 types of introversion and extroversion; and someone who experienced all three and has learnt to thrive in daily life regardless. During the interview, we shed light on the differences. Here are the keynotes:
No one is completely an introvert or extrovert. They don’t exist in absolutes as most people have more of one than the other.
Introverts are stimulated when they spend time on their own and dampened with more time spent around people; they get drained by socialising and usually need time to recharge after.
Social introverts, like me, are those who have figured out how to not get entirely drained by being around people and have learned to quickly replenish their energy.
Introversion is not to be confused with shyness, introverts socialise when they want and don’t want (at will) shyness is more of an inability to socialise altogether.
Being around people has the opposite effect for extroverts. Extroverts draw energy from socialising.
After a huge party, an introvert will usually go ‘that was fun but I’m looking forward to spending some alone time tomorrow’ while an extrovert will go ‘that was fun, we should do this again tomorrow’
Networking/Socializing as an introvert
One of the biggest mistakes introverts make is believing that we are doomed to be bad at networking. Most introverts throw in the towel and think ‘I’m introverted; my energy is drained when I socialise so I can never be a great networker’, this isn’t true because networking is a game of quality over quantity.
Imagine that two bakers live in the same city. One is a full time baker who owns enough equipment and is able to bake 50 cakes a week, the other is a part-time baker with other responsibilities like taking care of two tiny humans and is only able to bake 15 cakes a week. At first, the second baker sees herself as being at a disadvantage, she complains and tries to keep up with the fist baker but her cakes start to lose quality. The second baker then has an aha moment and decides to compete on quality rather than quantity because even though the first baker bakes more than double the amount of cakes the second baker does, the second bakers cakes are softer and more mouthwatering than the first’s. You can see that more effort and time goes into the 15 cakes than the 50.
Just because one baker dishes out 50 cakes and the other 15 does not make the first baker a better baker.
The same goes for introversion and networking. Quality over quantity.
Another mistake many introverts make is focusing on the cons of being an introvert. Everything has its positives and negatives and we forget that there are a lot of positives that come with being an introvert. For example because introverts spend a great deal of time in solitude, ideas spring up easily and they tend to be more creative.
Introverts are good listeners by nature since they talk less they tend to listen more and be sensitive to others’ non-verbal communication or body language and to the tone of communication.
There are many other mistakes I see introverts make such as:
- Not budgeting your energy – as introverts, we get drained by socialising. It’s important to prioritise where our energy goes.
- Not observing what drains you – spend time and observe what activities drain and energise you. Schedule a recharging activity after you do something draining.
- Getting in the habit of staying indoors all the time – because we as introverts love spending time with ourselves, the more you stay indoors, the more you get into the habit of staying indoors. Do something that gets you out of the house or has you interacting with others [outside work] once a week
- Trying to keep up with their extrovert buddies – don’t try to compete on the number of people you can socialise with, it will only leave you drained
- Putting themselves in non-ideal work environments – if you work in an environment that requires a lot of socialising on a daily basis, you’ll be drained.
A video walkthrough of how to fix the most common mistakes I see introverts making.
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