A common comment that comes up while I'm walking someone through one of our workshops is:
"This sounds great for all you extroverted performers who like to be onstage all day, but how am I going to pitch this to my [fill in the blank] team? They're all too shy - they'll never be onboard for something like this! Have you ever done this workshop with introverts?"
I take a dramatic pause for effect, and then I bring it home for the big reveal:
"As a matter of fact - we have done this workshop with shyer groups. Some of these workshops were even developed by an self-described introvert. Me!"
And then I pause again for the gasps and applause that inevitably crescendo from the other side of the table and drop a mic that appears out of thin air to punctuate the whole exchange.
Okay - that last part never happens, but the first part is 100% true! My name is Allie. I'm a writer, director, performer, and training professional who has to network for a living, AND I'm an introvert.
While I don't love describing myself or anyone else in binary camps (introvert/extrovert, clean/messy, creative/analytical), it is helpful to identify myself as an introvert if only as a means to understand how I function best in a professional environment. Knowing this about myself was the key to unlocking how I work. Elements of my professional skillset that seemed like hurdles to overcome quickly became small jumps that I could step over quite easily given the right tools. One of the biggest hurdles to tackle, however, was one of the most essential responsibilities of my job. Networking.
To be fair - I don't know many people (introverted or otherwise) who enjoy networking. It's one of those necessary evils that we all have to face - like flossing, or hearing a coworker say they "need a vacation from their vacation." But! There are people who are natural networkers and those who are decidedly not.
The skills I've learned from improvisation have been essential in making me a more comfortable networker. I'll never be a natural - I've famously received notifications from my fitness tracker that it detects I'm working out when I've merely been chatting with fellow professionals at one event or another. But, viewing each interaction as an improvised scene where I play a co-starring role with my new contact certainly takes the edge off.
Our "Networking" workshop is one of my favorite curriculums to offer to our clients. Every time I participate in the workshop, I find a new tool to get myself comfortable in scenarios that would otherwise make me anxious, support the room by bringing my whole self to an exchange, and ultimately make meaningful connections.
If you're someone who is curious on how to become a better networker, no matter your comfort level, I highly recommend joining us next month for our Q4 Public Workshop. We'll be conducting our full, two-hour, "Networking" workshop with a great group of Chicago-based professionals (who you then get to network with after the workshop - win/win!)
Hope to see you there!