I’m an Introvert – Help!

July 25, 2023

How to avoid the “Help, get me out of here” moments

I never do this – attend conferences alone. 

But I attended the National Speakers Association’s Influence Conference solo because my girlfriends aren’t in this line of work … and no one wanted to come to Orlando in the middle of July just to stay in a hotel.

On the plane ride down, I couldn’t help but ask myself: Why are you doing this, again?  You know you like a wingman at events!”

I then had to laugh at myself – Come on, Angie.  Be a big girl.  You love people – stop acting like the shy little girl you once were.”

You see, I grew up painfully shy – so much so that my sister would have to talk for me in certain situations. (Oddly, I would bite people, but I wouldn’t talk to them … but that’s a separate story!)

When I walked inside the kickoff event set for 1100 people, I made the strategic choice to sit at the end of a row – just in case I needed a quick exit.  What a relief it was when a woman sat down next to me, another solo attendee, and said, “Mind if I sit here. I’m slightly overwhelmed.”  And there you have it, friends – I found Conference Buddy #1.

Right after the opening act, I went outside during the break, and you’ll never guess what happened?  A woman standing near me pointed out a salamander and said, “Look at that?  I guess I’m always surprised when I see them.  We didn’t have them in Michigan growing up.”  I introduced myself to my fellow Michigander, and when she shared her name I stopped in my tracks.  “Gina, I know you – we ran track against each other in high school.”  And just like that, Buddy #2.  What a surprise! 

Pretty soon, I no longer felt like a new student at high school.  And I’ve got to admit: all of this seems so silly to write.  I’m a Marine for crying out loud.   I’m not afraid of dying for my country.  I’m also an entrepreneur.  I’m not afraid of investing in an endeavor.  But put me in a room full of strangers, and I’m afraid of chit chat??!! 

It’s ridiculous.  But it’s honest!  And I know I’m not alone, that’s why I’ve written this:

An Introvert’s 5-Step Guide to Conference.  Ready? 

1. Know Your Why.  Understand why you’re entering into a networking experience.  Know the value of the experience and don’t let your nerves talk you out of it.

2. Meet People 1 by 1.  You don’t have to make friends with everyone on the first day.  Find a person, then another person.  Build your network throughout the experience.

3. Tap Out When You Need To.  Catch a breather from time to time – step outside, be alone, get your energy, and go back in there.

4. Be Vulnerable.  Just as my Conference Buddy #1 did to me, be honest with others about how you feel – it’s a great conversation starter and you might discover you’re not alone.

5. When in Doubt: Ask Questions to Draw Attention Away from You.  This is my secret skill.  I like to make the other person talk.  I ask question, upon question, just to keep the conversation off of me – this works best with an extrovert, of course.  For my introvert connection, I try not to make them feel that they’re being interrogated.

Overall, I left the experience feeling quite fulfilled by all that I learned, as well as inspired by all those I met.  It would’ve been a tremendous shame to have missed out on such an incredible experience just because I was too chicken to go at it alone!

Do you have any networking tips?  Send them my way!! 

You’ve got dreams, visions, and goals that are ready for your attention and action. What stands between you and your potential is your willingness to bet on you.

Don’t waste one more day wondering what to do. Get connected and stay inspired. Sign up for Rally Cry – your weekly burst of bright light that will help illuminate a path forward. You’ll be invited to FREE events where you can stay engaged and inspired.

You Might Also Like

Angie Morgan Witkowski, a working mom, and her two sons at a cross country meet

Top 10 Working Mom Tips that Should Alleviate (Some) Guilt

I remember when my son, Judge, was in middle school. On one particular day, I felt guilty about all of...

Read More

Addressing Burn Out Head On

Are you feeling drained? Like if you hear your boss announce another “new, exciting” initiative you’ll literally scream “Enough with...

Read More

turn jealous jealousy into admiration

Transform Workplace Jealousy into Admiration

I’m not too proud to admit that I’ve been jealous before.  The earliest memory I have is when I went...

Read More