Networking For The Introverted, Shy And Anxious

Hola What’s Hot Fam,

Being in a field where networking is a constant part of the job can be difficult. Networking for the shy or introverted can be even more difficult; not to mention draining. Before I reveal how I manage these opposing demands ( work responsibilities v.s. self-wellness) let’s take a look at a couple of definitions from Merriam Webster:

Shy (adjective) easily frightened; timid

Introvert (noun) a reserved or shy person who enjoys spending time alone

Anxiety (noun) an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it

Social Anxiety (noun) a form of anxiety that is brought about by social situations (such as meeting strangers, dating, or public speaking) in which embarrassment or a negative judgment by others may occur

I am not a medical professional so I will not self diagnose or attempt to say the things below are a cure or absolute solution for any of the things named above. The suggestions listed below are simply things I do to help myself when I am feeling drained or uncomfortable in social situations for work. However, please do what works best for you and overall benefits your mental health.

Pay Attention To Your Breathing And Body Language

 When I am experiencing feelings of social anxiety, I’ve noticed that I tend to hold my breath and tense up in my shoulders and hands. Simply being aware of this change in my physical state has better equipped me to help myself relax when I am feeling discomfort or nervousness. I like to remind myself to breathe and make some sort of eye contact when I’m conversing. Once I get my breathing back on track, it’s easier to relax my muscles. Getting these two areas in a natural state leaves me feeling more approachable and calm overall. 

When you first arrive at a social setting notice how your body feels before you enter the event (or when you’re completely relaxed) in comparison to when you’re inside. Take everything in about yourself before you try to tackle the things around you and do it again when you are about to partake in or initiate a conversation. After you check in with yourself, get the hell out of your head, be present, and get to work!

Take in what’s around you from an observant perspective whether that be the setting or the words of the person you’re talking to! Remind yourself that this experience is not so much about you as it is getting the job done or the connections built. You may have to repeat these steps several times throughout an event depending on the severity of your shyness or anxiety, but don’t give up! networking for shy introverts

Take Breaks

Taking some time to regroup and recharge is really important for me when it comes to immersing myself in social environments. These breaks can simply look like going to the bathroom during an event to check my appearance or repeat some self-affirmations. Another way I recharge is by trying, if possible, to space out the events I attend or cover. For example, I may attend one major networking event every month and smaller events or networking efforts throughout. It really depends on your job demands and your comfortability. I do caution taking extensive amounts of time between social events. Personally, I find myself regressing in regards to improving my social skills when I’m out of the mix for too long. In other words, make sure your hard work doesn’t go to waste by sitting on the sidelines longer than necessary.

Look Your Best

I have to feel fabulous to feel confident or even remotely comfortable in a social situation. Fabulous doesn’t always mean heels or a tuxedo. It can simply mean something comfortable that fits you well or accents your favorite part of your body. If you know you look good, it does make it a little easier to focus on other things and tap into your confidence. When I find myself worried about others opinions about my appearance, it’s usually because I’m slightly overdressed or don’t want to come off as cocky or conceited. While that still can be nerve-wracking, I prefer that over feelings of self-doubt. (However, my personal goal is to not care what others, especially those who don’t know me, are thinking about me at all.)

When it’s all said and done your opinion of yourself should be your first priority. If you feel good looking in the mirror, try to remember that feeling throughout events. Confidence is key!

Aroma Therapy

Bath and Body Works sells some great aromatherapy products for stress relief, comfort, happiness and more. Products you can keep with you for bathroom breaks include mists and lotions! I like to apply a little happy lotion before I leave out of the house for an event to help me relax and give me an extra mood boost. When you apply the products make sure you inhale deeply to really take in the ingredients, which can include things like eucalyptus and ginger. This is a great step to take, if you’re like me and feel like you need a hands-on approach to dealing with things.

Be Patient With Yourself

Patience is perhaps one of the most important things I have to remind myself of. Unpredictable situations occur all the time and I often feel so much internal pressure to respond quickly. Often, I even get frustrated with myself for how I respond to things.  With that being said, I am still a work in progress and I have to remind myself that it’s okay. Those little mistakes are something to learn from and the more I’m in these situations the better prepared and wiser I will be for the next one.

The photo above represents a major day I stepped out of my comfort zone. I traveled to New York for a neetworking event and stopped in the middle of the street to take pictures like I’ve seen so many others do on the streets of New York. The mid-street photoshoot definitely had it’s awkward moments. Furthermore, I earned a few side-eyes from those passing by, but some semi-killer photos are my reward for, quite frankly, not giving a f**k.

In every situation, remind yourself that you’re human and everyone makes mistakes or has awkward moments. Slow down and take time to learn yourself and what you want to improve on. Everything someone else does or says isn’t always a reflection of you or a response to something you did. Learn from yourself so that you’ll be more confident the next time, and try again! Patience is what will give you some inner peace and keep you pushing until you achieve your goals!

With Sizzling Love,

Stacey Cake

P.S. Don’t be afraid to speak with a mental health professional before implementing any of the steps above. There is no shame in getting help!

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