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Tuesday, 08 January 2019 12:50

As someone who is introverted and uncomfortable with the idea of networking and self-marketing, how can I foster networking connections?

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This question seems to have been kicking around for a while awaiting some new answers. According to some researchers, over 40% of Americans describe themselves as being shy.

This seems to be on the increase. Just take a look at any bus stop where you could have 20 people with their smart phone earbuds in place and trying to avoid making eye contact with any of the others at the stop.

Many people confuse introversion with shyness. They’re not the same, however you can be both. Introversion merely refers to where you draw your strength from. An introvert prefers quiet, solitary activities and shuns the hustle and bustle of large groups of people.

Conversely, extroverts recharge their energy by being with others.

Now as for shyness, it relates to a lack of social skills. Both introverts and extraverts can be shy but it is prevalent in introverts.

Shyness can be placed on a continuum with being extremely shy at one end and occasionally shy in some instances at the opposite end of it.

I have been a shy introvert most of my life. After 25 years in Toastmasters my shyness has reduced significantly in social situations. I will admit though to avoiding certain social events if I can get out of it.

While I may be more outgoing than I was and certainly a lot more than many introverts, I will always be an introvert. It is my default mode. Unless one has brain trauma and personality reconstruction I don’t believe there to be evidence that a genuine introvert has become an extravert.

A few years back I studied the subject of introversion, shyness and self-promotion. I created a program and wrote a book i.e. Power Networking for Shy People: Tips & Techniques For Moving From Shy to Sly!Power Networking for Shy People: Tips & Techniques For Moving From Shy to Sly!  to level the playing field for shy people to network as well as the extraverts seem to think they do.

Basically the book provides strategies and tactics to use to reduce a shy person’s anxiety in social situations. You can do a lot of research before you attend an event. If shyness is a deficit of skills to use in social settings, the book provides the reader with tactics to develop those skills.

As for self-marketing/self-promotion, blowing your own horn if you will, I will ask you this… “if you don’t, who will?” Self-promotion can be challenging if you are shy and an introvert. At its essence is self-confidence. If you are confident about what you do in life it becomes a lot easier to promote yourself and it closely ties into the skills, you need to develop to overcome shyness.

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Rae Stonehouse

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