Think like an introvert—if you have to go, have a plan. Social events can be nerve-racking. Concerns of who is going to be there, how many people you will know, and what should be said to them can run rampantly through your mind. But instead of succumbing to your clammy hands and being a wallflower all night, formulate a plan of action ahead of time that will help you make the most of every event. Doing so will ensure that you make all the right connections, and it will help to alleviate all that pre-party social anxiety.
The research and interviews I conducted for the book, The Connectors, suggests that introverts are better connectors than extroverts when they actively engage. The reason? Because if an introverted person has to go to a big social event, they are going to figure out what they will do when they get there. One of the biggest introvert fears is to attend a party, feel out of place, and end up standing alone somewhere with no one to talk with.
So, to think like an introvert who is engaging, you must have a plan of action. First, think about who will be at the party and who you’d like to talk with or meet. Consider which contacts are the most important to you—maybe there are a few people you want to ask about possible openings at their companies—and make a point to speak to each of them during the event (instead of hiding behind the dessert bar all night!). You may even want to consider asking the host for a guest list if you’re not sure who will be attending. Then, do a little research online or on social networking sites like LinkedIn to learn about attendees. Pick five people that you’d like to speak with while you are there, and don’t avoid the big names. Make sure you challenge yourself by making an effort to connect with at least one top dog.
The result… you may just make a valuable connection with someone that has the potential to lead you somewhere else – to a new job, a new client or a new advocate! Try it – the worst that can happen is that you’ll have better conversations at your next holiday gathering.