I’ve got my high school reunion this weekend.
That means it’s time for this introvert to prepare. I’m not referring to what outfit to wear (that was chosen weeks ago). I’m talking about prepping for the stress of interacting with a room of 100 plus people.
This has nothing to do with being shy. I don’t consider myself shy at all. This is about energy, not sociability. Introverts find other people tiring. In fact, it’s exhausting just thinking about how to graciously chit chat with a large roomful of acquaintances into the wee hours and not be zapped of every last bit of energy.
But I have a plan.
The Introvert’s Guide to Working a Room
- Leverage listening. Introverts are excellent listeners. And listening, versus talking, can be a great energy saver. Most people, even my fellow introverts, love talking about themselves. Before walking into the room, I’ll have a few questions ready. “How did you get started in your career?” “What are you passionate about outside of work?” “Won’t you please show me that picture of your adorable children again?”(Maybe not the last one) #WinWin
- Prepare to share. Introverts are most comfortable when they have a chance to formulate their thoughts ahead of time. I’m already planning what I want to share about myself. I might even practice saying it out loud a few times. “What do you do?” will be asked a bazillion times. Why not have a refined elevator pitch ready? #NoNotesIPromise
- Move about. I would be quite content holed up in a quiet corner conversing with three people all night. (Individually, of course.) Milling around, interrupting conversations to say hello, waving gregariously across the room? Not my style. But I’m going to push myself to greet and strike up a conversation with a wide array of folks. And then reluctantly move on after 15 minutes. #ThisOneWillBeTough
- Set a goal. My target is to (re)introduce myself to 5 people (outside of my old gang of friends) and reconnect with 5 others that I have minimally kept in touch with. #BabySteps
- Find small moments to recharge. I loathe small talk. We introverts consider it draining meaningless chatter. Deeper one-on-one conversations are what we long for. That, and silence. You’ll find me sneaking away periodically to the ladies room. #LipGlossBreak
My plan isn’t so different than approaching a room full of strangers at a professional networking event.