[For Nahjee] My husband and I got a big ol’ chuckle yesterday from your assumption that I was an extrovert. If I am the most extroverted person you know, you need to get out more (HA!), because in my not-so-secret life I’m a classic introvert. In fact, I have a stunningly high tolerance for aloneness. When I lived on my own I could go weeks at a stretch before yearning for company. It got to the point where I would force myself to go out three nights a week because I actually started to forget how to talk to people in coherent sentences. Do you know when I joined Meetup and began networking for real? In February. It was a New Year’s resolution to get out of the cave I’d been living in.
All this is to say that anything I do that gives you the impression that I “can walk into any room and talk to everybody” is well within your reach. All of it is an acquired skill that with practice you can master. And, yes, your smiles will be genuine, because in the right crowd—that is, in the company of wonderful individuals—networking will begin to feel less like a chore and more like something you actually enjoy. The generosity of people will buoy you.
I am so excited that you have joined a Meetup group. Since you’ve made terrific progress in the handshake with a smile and eye-contact department, I’m giving you two new assignments:
- Enter the bar by yourself without throwing your defenses up. Walk in like you belong there (because you do); walk in believing you are terrific company (because you are).
- Ask at least three people how they entered the field of youth-serving work. Remember, the point of inviting you out is so you can get an idea of how people launch their careers.
If it seems like your tasks are getting more difficult, that is totally intentional. Don’t worry—I won’t have you approach strangers yet. You will know a handful of people there, and I promise to be waiting for you inside with bells on. xoxo