Hello, my name is Kelly and I’m a self-proclaimed introverted-extrovert. If you know me personally, you’re probably surprised to read this. You likely know me as the outgoing girl that networks on the daily and can easily engage a room of strangers. The girl that enjoys public speaking, can host a meet-up at the drop of a hat, and does well on a panel. And you’re not wrong. While I actually enjoy all of those things, it takes me a bit to warm up and get there. But once I’m there, I’m fully there. It’s rare that anyone sees the shy side, but it’s there. Thankfully, I’ve learned to embrace it and work through it.
If it’s true what they say — that you’re a product of your childhood — then this all makes sense. Growing up, I was the kid who was loud, funny, inclusive, highly curious, and did well with an audience. In high school I was voted “Class Clown” and “Most Talkative,” and in my sorority I was the Social Chair. Are you following? But all of this worked to my advantage because I was in an environment that was familiar and I had various security blankets at any given point: family, friends, and places. Though, remove any one of those variables, and I was slightly timid, highly observant, and often times cautious. I couldn’t fully let loose or commit to an experience unless I knew the situation or felt comfortable learning more about it.
Ironically enough, I chose a career that requires a lot of networking, community building, public speaking and situations where I’m forced outside of my comfort zone. Like anything, the more you practice, the better you are. Instead of having my shy side stop me from doing cool things or meeting great people, I learned early on to flip the script and embrace it. Here are my modest tactics for stepping outside my comfort zone when it comes to networking.