You’re Just Not That Into Me (the introvert’s guide to attending a conference)

Mack Collier wrote an exceptional post last week called, “The Introvert’s Guide to Speaking.” As both a speaker and an introvert myself, I found the post very relatable and was touched by Mack’s raw candor in regard to his speaking fears.

There is another fear that most introverts (and many extroverts) have when attending a conference or networking event that I’d like to address: the fear that no one will want to talk to us.  You know what I’m talking about, right?

To be honest, I used to avoid networking events if I was not absolutely sure that someone I knew would be there – someone for me to “hang out with.” This was a real detriment to my career as it drastically limited my exposure to executives outside of my little “bubble,” and prevented me from making wonderful new business connections.

Here’s what I dreaded: the moment when you walk into a room and you search the faces of people who are there, looking for someone who seems interested and willing to talk with you.  And what I always got back (in reality, what I thought I was getting back) was the professional version of “I’m just not that into you…” 

It played in my head as, “these execs don’t think I’m at a high enough level to be interesting,” “they are not interested in my connections,” “they don’t see any value in getting to know me…”

All of this changed for me the day I was hired by Andy Whitman to work with MENG, the Marketing Executives Networking Group.  When you’re consulting for a company with the word “networking” in its name you’d better know a thing or two about it!  Working with Andy was a tremendous blessing because he is an extraordinary networker and I was able to watch and learn from the best.

What did I learn from Andy Whitman that all introverts should know?

1.  Virtually everyone – executives, assistants, musicians, introverts, extroverts, you name it – is uncomfortable to various degrees at networking events and conferences because it forces us as humans to go outside our comfort zone.  Thus, I was not alone.

2.  Many people have a hard time being the one to extend themselves and have that same “they’re just not into me” tape playing in their head.

3.  If I extended myself – made the first effort to extend my hand, introduce myself and offer a very genuine smile, 90% of the time I was actually helping the other person out immeasurably. I was putting others at ease.

4.  When I learned to enthusiastically make that first, warm, genuine introduction of myself, what I received back was invariably a warm, “it’s so nice to meet you” in response! It was like magic I had never known about… No one had actually been sending me an “I’m not into you” signal – it was all in my head!

A few weeks ago I had the great fortune of attending SOBCon 2010 – a small conference made up of some of the greatest minds in social media, many well-known social media “celebs” included.  I was admittedly quite nervous about attending but I extended myself on every occasion possible and you know what?  I discovered that many of the social media “celebs” are actually quite shy themselves!

Instead of just assuming that “they weren’t into me” because I wasn’t a celeb, I introduced myself and received back such warm and often enthusiastic responses, that it was clear they appreciated my effort. 

So, my dear introverted friends, the next time you are invited to a networking event or you go to a conference:

1. Go – don’t back down and make an excuse not to go, you’ll miss out on the opportunity to meet amazing people who could become great collaborators or even friends. Take advantage of all the networking opportunities that the event or conference offers you.

2. Walk in the room with a genuine, warm smile.

3. Extend your hand, smile, and say “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met, I’m so and so, it’s so nice to meet you” and see what unfolds for you!

Wishing you exciting new experiences! Please share your thoughts and experiences  in the comments – I’d love to know if any of you have had similar experiences and how you’ve handled them!

UPDATE: My new eBook, “The Introvert’s Guide to Success in Business and Leadership” is NOW AVAILABLE! You may Download it at www.TheIntrovertsGuide.net for only $7.99 or BUY IT at Amazon for Kindle! 

This 60+ page eBook is for introverts who want to use their introversion to their advantage in business and leadership, and for extroverts who lead introverts and wish to be more effective leaders.

Comments

  1. Ai Ling says:

    Thank you! You speak exactly how I feel.
    Shall use your tips for my next networking event.
    Smile :)

    • Ai,

      I couldn’t be happier to hear that! I think there are a lot of people out there just like us. Good luck at your next event and please let me know if the tips are helpful!

      Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to comment! :)

  2. I am so glad I was able to sit with you during Sunday’s nonprofit brainstorming session at SOBCon, Lisa. Your ability to absorb, distill and articulate what was being said really helped us to define what it was we, as a group, were trying to achieve.

    I felt many of the same reservations attending this event in particular. It was my first as a social media person, and I was concerned about my follower count, blog presence, (lack of) programming/tech skills…etc.

    By forcing ourselves to consider the Other, we are able to truly forge connections and leave our fears behind us.

    Great post! Thanks for the forum. Best, M.
    .-= @mckra1g´s last blog ..mckra1g: Good morning! I think I’m going to speak like McBain all day. Who’s w/me? =-.

    • Molly,

      I felt the same way about that Sunday morning table group we had! It was wonderful for me that it was people I had not had a chance to get to know yet – and your energy and effervescence was contagious!

      You know, I had a feeling that there would be others in the same position as me who attended, but you just never really know. Thank you for sharing your own personal reservations – that means a lot to me. And I have a feeling that you had the same amazing experience I did because I *know* you really extended yourself that weekend and put yourself out there! So, kudos to you!

      Thank you for the kind words and the wonderful new friendship! All the best…

  3. Wow – it is quite the week for introverts. I love your observations and advice.
    When I was in college, someone who eventually got to know me, said that I came across as cold and stuck-up – mostly because I was shy and not too chatty. Hard to hear, but I remember that moment when I’m “presenting” myself – making the first move with a smile and genuinely greeting someone makes you approachable. The drama in my head (“no one likes me””I don’t belong here”) is self-defeating.
    .-= Carolyn Lawson Low´s last blog ..Speak Easyor at least with less stress =-.

    • Carolyn I had the exact same experience with the word “cold.” I agree with you – so hard to hear – especially when that is the last thing you are feeling inside… And you are right, self-defeating is a perfect way to describe that drama in the head. It sounds like you were able to get beyond it and become the approachable woman you really are – which is inspiring!

      Thank you for taking the time to share your experience – I sincerely appreciate it!

  4. Your post really hits home. I find myself in the position every time I attend a networking event. I am going to bookmark this and read it twice before my next event. Thanks.
    .-= Beth Schillaci´s last blog ..Does Your Marketing Rely On Storytelling or Special Effects? =-.

    • Beth,

      The fact that you are going to bookmark it and read it before your next event makes the entire experience of writing it worthwhile to me! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to let me know…you’ve changed my day. :)

  5. This post reminds me of an alumni event that I signed up to attend about 3 years ago. While driving there I literally had a panic attack and almost turned around. But the event opened up new doors that have led to some very rewarding experiences, one of which is an opportunity to represent a new nonprofit at a national conference next month. Thanks, Lisa, for the reminder that “If I extend myself – make the first effort to extend my hand, introduce myself and offer a very genuine smile, 90% of the time I will actually help the other person out immeasurably!” Serving others by stepping out of my comfort zone. What a concept!
    .-= Richard´s last blog ..Your Sole Purpose Is Your Soul Purpose =-.

    • Richard,

      First – thank you for sharing your story about how you almost had a panic attack. I appreciate the candor and am thrilled to hear you went anyway – that took serious courage. Of course it opened up new doors for you – meeting new people always does that and it’s hard to remember this sometimes when we let our fear get in the way.

      And what a fresh insight that you’re serving others by making the first effort – I hadn’t really thought of it as “serving” and I love that perspective!

      SO glad you stopped by – thank you for taking the time to write! Hope to see you again soon…

  6. I am noticing more and more introverts on the “social media circuit” and we are becoming very vocal. I do the same thing at events, I want to find the one person I know, latch onto their side, and then stick with them. Once I’m with someone, I am completely comfortable. It’s the whole “first day of school in a new place” syndrome that shuts me down. I will definitely be keeping this post in mind the next time I have a networking event.

    • Hi Maranda,

      I love that “first day of school in a new place” analogy – thank you for that!

      Thrilled to hear you will be keeping this post in mind at your next event, it means a lot to me! Thank you for taking the time to stop by and to comment…sorry it took so long to get your comment approved (it showed up in the wrong folder).

      All the best and thank you again. :)

  7. 4. Grab an extra name tag. Write a short question on it related to the event, e.g., Tried product X?, Do you use tactic Y? Place the second tag next to your name tag. Even if you’re feeling introverted, you’ve given the other attendees an easier way to approach you. It’s also a handy prop to point to after you shake hands in step #3.
    .-= Mark Alves´s last blog ..Best Songs About Mary for Mother’s Day =-.

    • Mark,

      You rock! What an awesome suggestion! I get the feeling that you’ve used this or suggested it to others and it has worked well.

      Thank you for taking the time to come by, leave a message and share your ideas! It means so much and I’m so glad to see you back here!

  8. Brilliant.

    BTW, this is the reason I didn’t meet you at #SOBCon. My “they’re just not that into me” mp3 (tape?! :-) ) was going strong.

    Nice to see I’m not alone there. This really really helps. Thank you, Lisa. And congratulations on this blog.
    .-= bencurnett´s last blog ..No One Is Listening To You =-.

    • Ben,

      Thank you. :)

      I am quite sure that it was *not* your mp3 tape that prevented us from meeting at SOBCon! I am 5 feet tall and very petite; it’s easy to miss me in a crowd! ;) I am completely into you, Ben, so we’d better meet at the next one! I’m signed up already – hope you are too!

      Most importantly, I am so happy to hear that it really helped. Thank you for the kind words of encouragement and I hope you’ll stop by again soon!

  9. I certainly count myself with you as a person who is not instinctively good at “working a room.” I like your tips a lot and have been trying to do better and introducing myself to people.

    What I’ve found to be a godsend to people like us has been social media and online networking. These new tools like Twitter allow you to quietly observe someone and take baby steps toward interacting without committing oneself to a full-on, in-person, conversation. You can get to know one another without having that awkward how-do-I-end-this-conversation-and-move-on moment that is what’s really the intimidating and tiresome part of live networking events.

    Going to networking events now is something I really look forward to because it gives me the opportunity to cement that friendship with someone in person that you’ve gotten to know and like already online. It banishes the awkwardness and agonizing small-talk of most traditional networking events. Instead of dreading live networking events I now look forward to those where I know I’m going to “IRL” some close online friends.

    ps. I am here because of @swoodruff’s tweet about your post.
    pps. How come it doesn’t show who the author of the post ist?

    • Joe,

      What a brilliant observation that online tools eliminate a lot of the discomfort of in-person events! You’re right, you can easily distract yourself from a conversation and it’s never taken personally; and you never feel like you’re standing awkwardly at the “punch bowl” so to speak.

      How wonderful that you now look forward to the in-person events and that you are experiencing the value of cementing those relationships – I think that’s fantastic.

      So glad to hear that you came because of Steve Woodruff’s recommendation – he is one of the people I met at the SOBCon conference who made my weekend the phenomenal experience that it was.

      I have no idea about your author question – this is only my second post & I am working out the bugs. Do you have advice for me on this?

      Thanks so much for stopping by & taking the time to comment Joe, I sincerely appreciate it!

  10. Lisa Diomede says:

    Lisa,

    You hit the nail on the head again. It’s great advice and likely applies to many –including myself at times. I consider myself to be fairly outgoing and personable. Yet, in conference and networking settings, I struggle with taking that first step to initiate a conversation. Your post will certainly be in the back of my mind at my next event.

    And I must say, I would have never known you struggled with this issue when we met in person last month. You’re definitely practicing what you’re preaching. Thanks Lisa.

    • Lisa,

      I can’t tell you how much that means to me coming from you! The fact that the thoughts will be in the back of your mind at your next event is a real blessing to me.

      And reading that you couldn’t tell how awkward it’s been for me in the past feels absolutely amazing to me right now – thank you for letting me know! I am so thankful for our new friendship. :)

  11. I appreciate what you have said here. As I was thinking it thru and as I was reading it, it resonated both in terms of conferences and networking but also for being interviewed for a job. I tend to have the introverts reaction to all of those. Thanks for writing about it.

    Joe
    twitter/JoeCrockett

    • Joe,

      Thank you for pointing out that it can apply during a job search and interview as well. We need to put ourselves *out there* at every opportunity if we want to make genuine connections. Without the connections, the opportunities to find open doors is drastically reduced.

      Thank you for the kind comments, for stopping by, and for taking the time to comment. I truly appreciate it!

  12. “3. If I extended myself – made the first effort to extend my hand, introduce myself and offer a very genuine smile, 90% of the time I was actually helping the other person out immeasurably! I was putting others at ease.”

    Lisa thanks for saying this, and the mention. As you know, I am an introvert, but I am fairly extroverted on my blog and on Twitter, which are the places that most people know me from. So if I am speaking at an event, they see me as my more introverted self, which I fear some people mistake for ‘he’s just not that into me’. The reality is, as you said here, that I feel that the attendees often don’t know who I am, or care to connect with me!

    After talking to some conference attendees and hearing similar stories to yours, I have started making more of an effort to reach out to people at events. So that alone has been a big help!

    BTW have to say I am FLOORED by how well your blog is doing! I knew you would do well, but in just two posts you are making us old pros look like amateurs! Congrats Lisa, you deserve it!

    • Mack,

      Nothing would make me happier than to know that you have stopped assuming attendees are not interested in meeting you and that you are giving the world the chance to get to know you. You are genuinely one of the nicest, smartest, most respectful and caring individuals I have met in a long time – on top of being a true gentleman – and the world needs to know it and have the chance to get to know you!

      The world should also know that it was *your* confidence in me that kept me from backing down… I honestly don’t think I could have launched this blog without your support. It means absolutely everything to me and the amazing response is really a tribute to you. Thank you, Mack.

  13. I have to start by saying the introvert does not equal shy. I’m a hardcore introvert and I’m not the tiniest bit shy. I love networking – it just tires me out. That said, I think you have some fantastic advice for anyone who is anxious about attending a conference. Since it’s more in my comfort zone, I’m always a bit surprised by how many people are afraid to approach someone else. But, remembering that most people in the room are probably feeling at least some anxiety is a great start. We’re all human. Plus, by approaching someone new, you might actually help them get over THEIR fears!

    • Christy,

      You are absolutely right – introvert does not equal shy by any means. Yet, I think that for introverts – given that we tend to get our energy and ability to “regenerate” so to speak by being alone – makes it more difficult to find ourselves in the midst of a crowd of people we do not know.

      And I’m completely with you – I’m exhausted after a networking event and the SOBCon conference was exhilarating yet entirely exhausting at the same time!

      Thank you for the kind words and for pointing out that you are helping others get over their fears in many cases. I think you’re spot on! Thank you for taking the time to read and to comment; it means so much to me. :)

  14. Hey Lisa,

    Oooh I hear you! Though I don’t like call myself an introvert, it’s probably what I am…

    I’ve been to a blogging and social media conference in Berlin earlier this year. It was my first conference and felt exactly the way you described it in your post. Three long days to force myself out of the comfort zone.

    In the end it payed out: I met Jeff Jarvis, Sacha Pallenberg from netbooks (dot) com and other amazing people. Now I see this as a warm up for BWE in October and hope I won’t be so shy there.

    Thank you so much for sharing this post Lisa.
    .-= Mariam Cisse´s last blog ..Resistance…I KILL YOU! =-.

    • Mariam,

      Do not assume that just because you can relate to the post you’re an introvert – please do not get hung up on the word. I’m just thrilled to know that you can relate to it but that you also forced yourself outside of your comfort zone in Berlin!

      How wonderful that you met some of the people you wanted to get to know, and I love that you see it as a “warm up” for BWE. Go with the intention to extend yourself in every way possible and let me know how it goes – I’ve a feeling it will be magical. :)

      Thank you for sharing your story – I am so grateful you did!

  15. Lisa,

    Great post and…

    I’m a high E extrovert and I think I feel about the same way you do when walking in to a room. Stomach doing flying somersaults like it’s part of an Olympic floor routine, tape screeching in my head like I’m at a live KISS concert and sitting in front of the speakers, and eyes darting frantically around the room looking for a friendly face.

    Ugh! Deep breath. Try to remember my 3 keys:

    1. I don’t want to meet everybody. If I meet, and have meaningful conversations with, 3 or 4 people then the event was a success.

    2. Have a prepared list of 3-5 general questions I can ask that are audience appropriate. Use the responses I get as a starting point for asking more questions. People generally like to talk about themselves if I show a sincere interest. Learning and using their name during the conversation helps with this.

    3. Don’t monopolize 1 persons time. We’re all there to network so when I feel a lull in the conversation I make sure I have their contact information to follow up and then excuse myself to continue mingling.

    Networking is a challenge for almost all of us Lisa. I hope these 3 keys will help you overcome it.

    • Kevin,

      Wow – I needed to take a breath too after your first paragraph! But you nailed it…much better than I did. Stomach tumbling and for me – heart racing… :)

      Your 3 points are great reminders about networking. In regard to #3, I agree and I think you can do the same thing you do when you introduce yourself – extend your hand, smile and say “it was so great to meet you!”

      Thanks you for sharing your great advice with me – I sincerely appreciate it! I appreciate that you took the time to read and to comment – it means a lot to me!

  16. Lisa,
    Of course, you are right. If we just plunge in with a smile it will all work out. The problem is going it alone can be scary. That’s what friends are for!!! But the truth is you can’t always find a friend to accompany you to a networking meeting. I really believe this is why so many people carry around their iPhones, Blackberries, etc…they can look “connected” and “busy” while they move into uncomfortable territory, or what they perceive as unwelcoming and uncomfortable.
    The nice thing about your blog and this post is that now I know should we ever be at the same conference, we will already “know” each other.
    Last year I wrote a post about the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You!” You might like my observations.
    http://blog.webconsuls.com/2009/02/technically-speaking-hes-just-not-that.html

    • Judy,

      It has been such a blessing to have you stop by and comment on both of my first-ever posts! Thank you!

      And you’re right, you can’t always find a friend to go with and moreover, we should not need to have friends with us in order to feel confident at these events. Beautiful insight about how the phone can be a “crutch” for us to look busy – I suspect people use it that way more than they might admit.

      Yes – I hope we will get to meet some day at a conference and already I feel like I’m getting to know you and some of the other readers well. What a beautiful experience! Thank you for being part of it!

  17. Great points! When I first started networking, I was so nervous about it that I actually took a workshop on how to network. The room was full of introverts, like me, and it made me realize I wasn’t alone.

    I think starting the conversation is one of the most intimidating parts. Coming from a journalism background, I realized that people love being able to tell their stories. So I was able to find a comfort zone because I enjoy asking questions.

    By taking the time to ask questions, you make a deeper connection with a person because only by learning their needs will you learn how you can help one another.

    Thanks for such a helpful post!
    .-= Natalia M. Sylvester´s last blog ..What to expect the first time you work with a copywriter =-.

    • Natalie,

      Thank you and wow – I didn’t even know they had courses like that. Good for you for going and realizing you were not alone.

      What a wonderful way to use your strengths to find your comfort zone – and you’re right, people do love to share their stories.

      I’m thrilled that you feel the post was helpful – thank you so much for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. It means a lot to me!

  18. Lisa,
    Thank you for this post. I clicked through on Julie Roads’s recommendation, and you said exactly what I needed to hear.

    That fear you talked about is everything that stands between who I am, and who I need to be. Your advice — your experience — is enough to light a fire for me. Because I believe you. Every word of it rings perfectly true.
    .-= Aaron Pogue´s last blog ..Your Blog Posting Schedule in Google Docs (Redux All Over Again) =-.

    • Aaron,

      Wow – for you to write that I said exactly what you needed to hear is pretty amazing to know.

      Your entire comment is extremely touching – and if the post truly lights a fire then it was worth everything for me to write it. I really can’t thank you enough for being so honest – I feel very blessed that you stopped by.

      Aaron, I wish you all the best, I appreciate you taking the time to comment, and I hope you’ll become a familiar face around here!

  19. This is great advice. I went to two student affairs conferences this year. Their were tweetups at both. At the first conference I didn’t personally know anyone at the tweetup so I discovered a reason not to go.

    At the second conference I had connected with a couple of people before going so it made the entry easier. Those connections qualitatively changed my conference experience.

    I only wonder what my other conference would have been like had I just taken the leap and gone anyway.

    Know that people want to welcome you and that on the other end they will be grateful to you for reaching out. You’d be grateful wouldn’t you?

    Go and make it a good day.

    • Mike,

      I was honored to know that the post sparked a conversation between you and your co-workers, and I genuinely appreciate the kind words.

      If only you had gone to that first conference…! I love knowing that you won’t make that same mistake again – and for recognizing that the person on the receiving end of your outstretched hand would be grateful.

      Thank you for reading, for taking the time to comment and for tweeting me about the conversation. It means so much to me and I sincerely hope to see you around here a lot in the future!

  20. this is so true and sometimes i can live by it and other times i still struggle but thanks for the reminder!
    .-= Crafty Green Poet´s last blog ..West Mossside Farm =-.

    • Juliet,

      Thank you – for commenting and for recognizing it can be a struggle. I am so with you on that!

      Please come back again – I just love your username and know you must be a creative soul!

  21. Lisa,
    I am getting ready to go to a networking meeting at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Tucson, AZ. SB1070 will be discussed I am sure. I don’t speak spanish, but I am going to GO, SMILE, and say HI(HOLA)!
    I will be back in touch to let you know what I learned.

    • Judy,

      I know this is cheesy, but – “You go girl!”

      You rock – so glad you found my blog!

      • Kind of a long day. If you see two updates from me, well I tried to post this about two hours ago, but it did not seem to take. Ok…so I went to the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Monthly Networking luncheon which was held at the historic Manning House. (Don’t judge the Manning House by their website.)
        I did as you suggested: Go, smile, and say hi!
        I had a good time and met interesting people. We had to do one of those “introduce yourself” at your table routines…so I decided to talk about your blog post and how I was following your advice today. They liked this story.
        Good news is I met a gentleman who is the president of a restaurant chain and he needs a company to optimize his new website. He is going to call me. As a side note, I love historical properties and the Manning House was wonderful.

        Thanks for making my day more interesting and for introducing me to Mack Collier.

        • Judy,

          I can’t thank you enough for reporting back – and what a tremendous story! Not only were you successful at meeting people but you have an exciting business opportunity to boot! Way. To. Go!

          And I’m always happy to introduce people to Mack Collier; I think the world of him. :)

          Looking forward to more stories…

  22. Very helpful! Can’t wait to try it out tonight at a networking shindig. :)

    • Niro,

      Good luck!! Please stop by tomorrow if you have a few minutes and let me know how it goes!

      Wishing you a very successful networking night…

  23. Lisa, when we finally met in Chicago a few weeks back, you did the the most important thing – introducing yourself in advance (via social media) and starting the conversation before we started the conversation. It’s one of the best ways introverts like us can get the ball rolling at a social event!

    • Steve,

      You know, you’re right – and that’s a great point that I didn’t include. It made it so much easier for me to talk with you in real life once we’d established a bit of a relationship online. But I did go out of my comfort zone to let you know I was genuinely looking forward to meeting you. In a sense, I suppose I was extending my “online hand.”

      Thank goodness for me you responded so positively, Steve! I hold you in the highest regard and am honored to have you as a new friend. :)

  24. Great post. Years ago I stumbled across a great infographic/diagram entitled “How to work a room” — kind of a step-by-step approach (created by XPLANE). (http://www.effectivenetworking.com/content/effectivenetworking/XPLANE-Networking.gif) Has some good ideas that apply to this post.

    • Jim,

      Holy cannoli that’s quite an infographic – what a great find!

      Thank you so much for stopping by and for taking the time to comment and share it. I sincerely appreciate it. :)

  25. Great post Lisa and nice looking blog too!

    Your points are a fab confidence builder.

    There’s only a couple of little things I would add. They may seem obvious but they work for me…

    1. Breathe! Taking nice big steady breaths helps you calm yourself and avoids squeaky voices too :)

    2. If you really are nervous when you are networking. meeting someone, tell them. Really! It helps break the ice even further. As you say, most of us are in the same boat.

    Good luck with the blog!

    Steve
    .-= Steve Seager´s last blog ..When my mum follows you in social media she is 50% more likely to buy or recommend your brand. =-.

    • Steve,

      Thank you so much for all of the kind comments and for the excellent suggestions you contributed. You are so right about the breathing – vitally important. And I love the suggestion to tell the person that you’re nervous. I suspect that not only does it break the ice but probably makes them feel a bit flattered as well.

      I genuinely appreciate the words of encouragement. Thank you for taking the time to comment and please come by again soon!

  26. Finally someone that actually knows what they are talking about – thank you!

  27. Hi Lisa. I walked in your shoes completely in this post. I have learned a lot from my friend @tamelacoval who has an amazing ability to network at events. One thing I realized which I feel in your post is that everyone else is just as afraid as I am. The moment I seized the moment and broke the ice there was an amazing sense of relief. The hardest part to me is being afraid and yet doing it anyway. Great post and I am so happy we connected in the great digital space! :)

    • Jonathan,

      I’m learning very quickly that so many of us involved in social media have this in common! Thank you for letting me know you’ve “been there” too – I appreciate that.

      And kudos to you for getting past the fear and going for it! I am also thrilled that we’ve connected – and I hope to see you here a lot in the future!

  28. Great thoughts! As an introvert, it took me forever to figure out this great insight on my own.
    .-= Christopher G. Hill´s last blog ..iPad Apps for Business Types =-.

    • Thanks Chris! So glad to hear you figured it out…

      Thank you for taking the time to comment – I so appreciate it – and please stop by again soon!

  29. Thanks for this! I’m a solid introvert, but love the opportunity to “help” others. The idea that my starting a conversation would relieve others never occurred to me, and will become my new tape when I walk into a networking event. Appreciate you sharing these ideas.

    • Alice,

      You are so welcome and I couldn’t be happier to hear you’ll switch tapes! Yes, think of it as helping others and your whole outlook will change.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and comment – I really appreciate it. :)

  30. Great read!

    I think I am the last one who will speak anywhere, at least not after 10 years from now, it’s not about being shy, but it’s about language and probably culture is also a big factor, English is not my first language and this is why I am always in the back seats listening more than talking!

    I have attended a few workshops and small conferences or you can say meet-ups in Denmark, I found that it’s so hard for me to find the right words when you speak! anyways… speaking it not for everyone!

    Thanks Lisa for the useful post.
    .-= Hesham´s last blog ..How Many Times I have to Repeat This? =-.

    • Hesham,

      Thank you for being so very honest about what it’s like for you. My heart goes out to you and I hope very much that the next time you are in such a situation you’ll find that the post has made it a bit easier for you.

      My very best wishes to you… :)

  31. Excellent post for we introverts and those few who LOVE walking into a room full of strangers. Knowing how uncomfortable 90% of people are hopefully gives the other 10% some insight.

    Also, ‘celebs’ in almost any genre love people to come up to them because so many are afraid and don’t. Believe it or not, they tell me it CAN be lonely at the top. Thanks!

    • Lynnelle,

      Thank you for the kind words and for sharing the insight about celebs. I believe you’re right and it’s true for CEOs too – it absolutely can be very lonely at the top, and they don’t want to be standing alone at an event any more than the rest of us!

      Thank you so much for reading, taking the time to comment and for sharing your thoughts. :)

  32. Because of my profound deafness, I have a harder time convincing myself to go to conferences because I don’t know if I can get my money’s worth. It’s like shooting craps — I may hit jackpot in understanding most of the speakers or I may crap out.

    Then there’s the added pressure of trying not to hang on to one person that I understand and am comfortable with. Excellent advice — it does help to reframe your thoughts to “Maybe that person would like someone to approach him/her — might as well as be me.”
    .-= Meryl K Evans´s last blog ..Links: Field Day 2010 Edition =-.

    • Meryl,

      Thanks for your touching comment – I can imagine that it makes things so much more challenging than the rest of us can imagine. It’s very poignant how you pointed out that the person who would like someone to approach them might as well be you – thank you so much for sharing that!

      It means a lot to me that you took the time to comment, Meryl – thank you so much for your kind words, and I hope you will be back again soon. :)

  33. Lisa – you know I’m not an introvert…yet this article is important for me to read and remember too. I try not to be TOO outgoing with who I am, though I seldom succeed.

    Good reminders to reach out first, though not too hard, and be yourself.

    Congrats on what looks to be a HUGELY successful adventure for you. Let me know how I can help YOU make it great!
    .-= Phil Gerbyshak´s last blog ..Twitter Strategy Made Simple =-.

    • Phil,

      Yes, I think it’s important for those who do not have this fear to realize that there are many who do. Speaking only for myself, I think it’s wonderful that you embrace new people – both literally and figuratively!

      I can’t thank you enough for the kind words of support – they mean so much to me coming from you! And thank you for taking the time to comment and for putting me on your special list – you are an amazing friend! Thank goodness we got to meet! :)

      • Lisa,

        It was a true pleasure sitting next to you at the Sun. table ….I think of you when I have a cup of tea from time to time :) you’re articulate, warm and sincere…. by making ourselves more accessible to others or as we use to say “letting our guard down” we help others connect …..

        My Dad use to say …. Hi, I’m Dave Colgan and I’m Your New Next Door Neighbor” ….then go on to the next neighbor….

        I love to connect folks…. I really do…. once most people
        realize “get over” the fact that no one person “belongs” to just them …..this whole networking thing a ma jiggy will get a whole lot easier for…….my/our new next door neighbors……

        Let’s chat by phone soon Lisa ……how “About You” :)

        Oh, and the C-Level Strategies must stand for Cate Strategies right? :) lol…….

        loving the blog :)
        .-= Cate.TV´s last blog ..Happy Birthday To My Bro, @TerrySimpson =-.

        • Cate,

          You are so sweet for saying all of this! I would love to chat by phone and I love the tidbit about your dad and yes – that is absolutely what C-level stands for! How did you know? ;)

          You are so full of love and it was a pleasure having you as part of my life on that beautiful Sunday morning! Let’s connect again very soon – and I am so honored that you came by and left a message – thank you!

  34. This is a wonderful article. As an INTJ, I can relate to virtually everything I’ve read in this post. In fact, I wish I’d been able to read this post five years ago.

    Over time I learned to put myself out there, introduce myself to people, etc. and I did OK. However, and it took me years to really catch on to this, I could only do so much before I needed a break. That throws people off and makes relationship building tough when you’re not prepared to stick around for the entire party, so to speak.

    That’s the only point that I could really add to this: at conferences, try to find a way to give yourself some space and alone time so that you don’t use up all of your energy too quickly.
    .-= Mark Dykeman´s last blog ..LOST and blogging about islands =-.

    • Mark,

      Thank you for saying that, I really appreciate it. I’m an INFJ – so that’s why we can relate to each other. :)

      Excellent point about needing a break that I believe absolutely resonates with introverts much more so than extroverts. We regenerate by being alone, not by adding more people to the party.

      Thank you for taking the time to stop by and to comment – it means a lot to me, especially in my first week of “this blogging thing!” Come back again soon. :)

  35. Lisa, I found you by way of Mack Collier’s blog. This is a great article and timely for me too, as I am ‘adventuring’ out into offline social media networking. I am looking forward to some upcoming social media events, but I am not an experienced networker so your post adds some comfort. :-)

    • Hi Angela,

      Thanks so much for coming over from Mack’s place! He’s just wonderful. :)

      I’m so glad to hear this is timely and that it will add a bit of comfort as you venture out. I promise that if you try it you’ll be pleasantly delighted by the response! Best of luck to you!

  36. Great advice, Lisa, and congrats on your launch. It’s a great-looking page and I love the portfolio/day runner theme.

    We at the Businesswomen’s Finishing School would like to reprint this post, with a link back to your site. We think we share a lot of the same sensibility and like-minded readers. If you agree, drop us a line at [email protected] and we will repost as-is and link to your page.
    thanks! CB

    • Caroline,

      Thank you so much for the kind words about the blog – they mean a lot to me!

      Thanks for your interest – let’s chat offline. So glad you stopped by…all the best!

  37. Hi Lisa,

    Not only do we share the same name but so many of the same feelings about starting a blog [had no idea someone else out there shared the same fears!] It is so refreshing to hear someone in your position be so honest about their insecurities. Makes me feel that I can listen to your advice because you truly understand the problems.

    The guy I work with is a true networking genius and he constantly reminds me of FEAR [False Evidence Appearing Real] a concept that we learned about at a FranklinCovey Seminar. FEAR is what controls my life and your tips plus the post about Observe, Don’t Absorb will help me immensely with that.

    You have inspired me to start that blog I have been thinking about AND take a chance at networking events. Consider me subscribed. I look forward to more posts!
    .-= Lisa Hutt´s last blog ...com names ripe for an upheaval? =-.

    • Lisa,

      I can’t thank you enough for all of your kind comments about my posts – they really do mean a lot to me and it is so rewarding to know that my efforts are helping others.

      I’m sorry to hear that fear has such a hold over you – I’m actually writing a post about fear for next week so I’m hoping that one might be of value to you as well.

      Please keep me posted as you start your blog and start taking more risks when networking – I would love to hear from you and to cheer you on! All my best…

  38. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the page layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two images. Maybe you could space it out better?

  39. I have a friend that is so introverted she looks like she could vomit when she gets in a group of people that she does not know.

    I will pass this on to her.

    Thanks!

    • Thank you for sharing it, Becky – I sincerely appreciate that!

      • Lisa,
        I sent the link to my friend and she was overwhelmed that most people are actually nervous and that someone needs to reach out and that helps the other person. She said it has given her a whole new perspective. It made me reflect more and I will be more forward at the next conference I attend. Even makes me think of fellow shipping after a church service. The same nervousness exists I am sure, at least I feel it.

        Thank you

        • Becky,

          I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you coming back to the post to let me know this! This is such tremendous feedback and I am just so thrilled for you and your friend. I wish you both all the very best! As an aside, I plan to write a lot more about this topic in the very near future – so please stay tuned!

  40. Lisa,
    I just noticed my friends picture there, I must have typed in her email address by accident (-8

    I will subscribe to your list.

    Thanks

  41. sociallyawkward says:

    “When I learned to enthusiastically make that first, warm, genuine introduction of myself, what I received back was invariably a warm, genuine “it’s so nice to meet you” in response! It was like magic I had never known about…no one had actually been sending me an “I’m not into you” signal – it was all in my head!”

    um, ok…. but this post seems sugar coated.

    shouldn’t we acknowledge that one can extend one’s hand and make a genuine into, only to quickly find yourself in an extreme socially awkward situation? not everyone is going to respond enthusiastically, and then you are left standing there like an idiot.

    THAT’s my problem with the “just pull up your pants and say hello! and it’ll all be GREAT!!!:)” philosophy. it isn’t always great.

    • Erin,

      I can absolutely appreciate your perspective. All I can say is that it has never failed me. I do realize that you are taking a risk but in every situation where I have extended myself the other person has accepted my hand and been either polite or incredibly gracious. It has never become awkward, and I have been around a number of high-powered people who could have easily been unresponsive.

      Have you tried this and had it backfire on you? I’d love to learn more and be able to help you. Will it always be great – as you said – no, of course not. But it is the first step toward creating new relationships and recognizing that we, as introverts, are often the only people standing in our way. I wish you all the best.

  42. Lisa,
    This is one of the best posts I have ever read. Inspirational, educational, real and plain wonderful.

    Thank you, thank you and thank you!

    Someone needs to take the lead, I was listening to Brian Tracey just the other day and this is echoing those important points to me.

    If you want to be successful this is one area in life you will need to grapple with and master. Even high power executives struggle with these things so it is possible for anyone to overcome them.

    • Thank you so much for those beautifully kind words, Selina! And you’re absolutely right – even high-powered executives grapple with this challenge daily. My very best to you…

  43. ibrowej says:

    Great guidelines to put into practice. I also would prefer to go to the dentist rather than attend a networking event. Your small steps seem to make networking a little less painful. I also found some really good free tips from Paul Aaron Travis at: http://relationshipcapital.co/op/?utm_src=bl

  44. Hi Lisa –

    What great words of wisdom. Even though many people would say I’m an extrovert, I could completely relate to what you were saying and in those networking situations do often feel vulnerable and shy. I will heed your words and am now following you on Twitter as well :)

  45. Great tips, Lisa. I wouldn’t call myself an introvert, but I definitely believe that your tips are a useful reminder for me and anyone else attending or participating at an event. Ultimately, most people feel the same way when in these situations — once you realize that, it helps to take the stress level down a bit for you.

    • Joshua,

      That’s such a great point about getting your stress level down…it makes it so much easier to be “present” at the event and get the most out of it. Thanks so much for the very kind words, I really appreciate them! All the best to you…

  46. I attended my first Blog World event in LA last year, and the challenge I run into, is that lots of attendees already seems to be in little cliques and groups – and it intimidating to try and break into an existing group. So I went to the stands where there was nobody else visiting, and it was easy to strike up a conversation, and the other person was grateful that “somebody was into them”.

    It’s tough to do. Networking online is so much simpler – but I made a really good contact at Blog World, and was able to pick up some motivational tips about pod casting. So it’s worth making the effort – it’s just tough to do for us introverts.
    Roving Jay´s last blog post ..Living in Harmony, Population 18

  47. This is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate information… Appreciate your sharing this one. A must read post!

  48. Meryl,

    Thanks for your touching comment – I can imagine that it makes things so much more challenging than the rest of us can imagine. I honestly don’t know a lot about how conference organizers address this, and I can only hope that in the future they’ll ensure that they can meet all the needs of their communities.

    It means a lot to me that you took the time to comment – thank you, and please stop by again.

Trackbacks

  1. […] You’re Just Not that Into Me (the Introvert’s Guide to Attending a Conference) […]

  2. […] You’re Just Not That Into Me: the introvert’s guide to attending a conference: I have a good reason to avoid conferences — I don’t know if I can get my money’s worth considering deafness thing. […]

  3. […] TOMORROW: STEP TWO of The Introvert’s Guide to Getting Promoted…This post was initially inspired by my friend Mack Collier’s “The Introvert’s Guide to Speaking” post, which in turn inspired my post titled, “You’re Just Not That Into Me: The Introvert’s Guide to Attending a Conference.” […]

  4. […] TOMORROW: STEP THREE of The Introvert’s Guide to Getting Promoted…This post was initially inspired by my friend Mack Collier’s “The Introvert’s Guide to Speaking” post, which in turn inspired my post titled, “You’re Just Not That Into Me: The Introvert’s Guide to Attending a Conference.” […]

  5. […] Value of Introverted Trade Show Booth Staffers from Mike Thimmesch at Skyline Trade Show Tips You’re Just Not That Into Me (the introvert’s guide to attending a conference) from Lisa Petrilli at C-Level Strategies Welcome! There's all kinds of useful goodness related […]

  6. […] Guide to Success In Business and Leadership,” writes about how introverts can network. In one post, she writes about her experience as an introvert at a conference. Petrilli suggests overcoming the […]

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