I am an Introvert. This doesn’t mean I don’t like people, of course, on the contary, I find people fascinating, and as I mentioned in my post on what motivates me to be interested in production, I explained that discussion and asking and raising and exploring questions, with other people, through the most exciting medium I know, is at the core of what motivates me. What it does mean, however, is that I can find human interaction, especially with big groups of people, or people I don’t know well, or, worse, big groups of people I don’t know well, a bit tiring and draining (this manifests itself, for me, in tiredness, in thr sense of physical fatigue -as if I’d done exercise- and, in its worst instances, I can feel stressed and/or panicked).
None of this means that I don’t find networking, which is the scenario in which I find myself most under pressure, very useful, or that I don’t know how valuable it can be, or even that I don’t enjoy it. It just means that I have to find good ways to be able to make the most of networking opportunities, while taking care of myself.
Having read Susan Cain’s book Quiet (I have not been sponsored, and will get nothing from you purchasing this book, but I still can’t recommend it enough – whoever you are, it will help you understand all sorts of other people), I know that approximately 30% of the population is introverted – here is some advice for you, learned by me. Even if you feel yourself to be more extroverted, I hope you find something valuable here too.
1. Remember to take breaks
If you find continuous talking to people and ‘selling yourself/your skills’ to them tiring, taking even five minutes to recharge is invaluable. I personally use the toilet break technique for this – everyone needs to go to the bathroom once in a while, so if you sense your energy flagging, excuse yourself, sit in a cubicle for five minutes, focusing on relaxing, and then go back.
If it’s a several day, or weeks long networking opportunity, like an internship, this is what your lunch break is for. Make the most of it!!
2. Try to get yourself in situations which are easier, if it is possible
Talk to one or two individuals at a time in small groups, if you can, rather than standing silently and stressed in a large group. This has the double advantage of making a couple of genuine connections, rather than a very surface/positively unmemorable impression on a larger number of people, and of enabling me at least, to feel much more comfortable in talking and expressing my own opinions in discussion.
3. If you can’t do 2 because of the set up, be gentle with yourself
Being gentle with yourself can mean different things in this scenario. It may mean not feeling guilty if you don’t talk as much as you could, because it’s difficult; that happens and it’s okay. It may also mean forcing yourself far out of your comfort zone, but allowing yourself rest afterwards (or several breaks, see 1). If I can, I try to do the latter, talk to big groups if that is the only option, and be careful not to over exhaust myself in so doing, by making the most of the breaks I get, and deliberately taking time before and after so I have as much ‘social interaction energy’ to use for this kind of scenario as possible. And sometimes I run out, and don’t say things which might have been an interesting contribution. But that isnt the end of the world. I just have to pick myself up and try again.
That’s all for this week, thanks as always for reading, and feel free to like this post if you enjoyed it, comment with your thoughts or questions, and follow the blog if you haven’t done so already and are interested in reading more. I’ll be back on Friday with an update about Week 6 at Fuel. I’ve already done half of my internship, how crazy is that? Time flies…