All posts in Things & Stuff

7 Tips for Introverts Who Are Required By Law, Duty, or Guilt to Attend Networking Events

It never ceases to amaze me how awkward I am at making small talk. I go to events around town all the time, and I always go with the best of intentions to meet new people and hear their stories.

But then reality sets in when faced with a room full of people.

I know there are many guides out there about networking for introverts, but those guides always involve actual networking. Whatever. They don’t know me.

Anyway. I put together my own tips for surviving crowds — like a “for introverts by introverts” kinda thing. If you follow my advice, you’ll make it successfully to the end of your event and still have energy left for whatever disaster awaits you at home, be it cat disaster or kid disaster.

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7 Tips for Introverts Who Are Required By Law, Duty, or Guilt to Attend Networking Events:

  • Use the bathroom often. I’m sure no one will think you have IBS.
  • Get another glass of wine. Duh. If someone attempts a conversation in line, you can at least make small talk about that time a glass of red gave you hives.
  • Circle the perimeter of the venue multiple times. Be sure to stop every few steps and act like you’re looking for someone, or you might get a visit from security.
  • Occasionally cross the diameter of the venue as if you see someone you know across the room. This also throws off security.
  • Hover awkwardly near a group of 5-7 people. To others, you’ll look like you’re in the group, but the group won’t notice you standing there.
  • Wander over to see what your spouse is up to if your spouse is someone who talks to people. You can stand there quietly for several minutes before someone thinks to introduce themselves. This only works if you bring your spouse.
  • Consult your smart phone periodically to track the event hashtag or check the number of likes on your snarky Facebook post about going to the event you’re at.

So there you have it — my expert advice for introverts. If you try any or all of these tactics, please comment and let me know how it goes. It’s nice know you’re not alone.

That One Thing Preventing Your Business From Growing (and it’s not what you think!)**

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Over the last couple years I’ve really struggled with an identity crisis as a small business owner.

When it comes to my client work and what I do for other people, I’m super confident, but I’ve been unable to do for myself what I do for other people. I doubt and second guess myself all the time, and I know that it hinders growth.

Part of my identity crisis has played out on this blog. In the past I tried to write in a cut and dried, business-y, authoritative voice using appropriate keywords and link bait titles such as 3 Ways to Improve Your Story.

But writing those posts made me feel fake and distant from my work, because when I talk to my clients, I don’t say things like, “HERE ARE 3 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR STORY: FIRST, throw out all the marketing advice you’ve ever heard! SECOND, listen to everything I say! THIRD, I always come up with a third thing, because titles with 3 things always get the clicks!”

Yet, that’s how EVERYBODY writes copy these days, and that’s how I was being advised to write in order to position myself as a “thought leader” (a buzz word I’d love to punch in the face).

At the same time, we were struggling to land the type of client that would let me write in a voice that was captivating to audiences in every other medium in which I write — relatable and conversational.

One day my friend and colleague knocked me over the head via our Slack channel and said, “QUIT OVERTHINKING IT. Just be who you are in all your content, and the right clients will follow” (my paraphrase).

So we relaunched the blog and I started writing like a person and not a robot.

And let’s be honest: this blog isn’t going to close any deals, anyway, so I might as well be myself and have fun with it.

** (see what I did there?)

Redefining Balance

A couple weeks ago was the Autumnal Equinox, and I happened to be at yoga that night when I had a DUH moment.

On the Equinox, daylight and darkness are nearly equal. The Universe doesn’t achieve balance for a season or a year or a lifetime — just on that one day.

Do you know what this means?!

Balance isn’t a lifestyle

Even the Universe can’t maintain balance for more that 24 hours, so why do we — and I’m speaking mostly to my fellow lady friends — why do we work so hard to live a life of balance? Wouldn’t it be healthier to find contentment in the lopsided reality of the world around us?

I personally have a hard time seeing beyond the chaos I’m in right now. It’s always going to be this way! I whine. But it’s not always going to be this way. Yes, maybe life is a little lopsided right now, but in just a little while the world will tilt into balance, and I’ll find relief until it tilts out of balance again.

It’s a rhythm I can count on when times are desperate and I need a little hope.

Balance is a signal of change, not an example of permanence.

When we hit the Equinox, we can’t hang on to those long, wandering days anymore. Fall brings back a natural rhythm to our lives, and we need to leave the carefree days behind us. But then, just as we’re despairing that Winter will never end, the Spring Equinox tilts us back into those carefree wandering days of summer again.

When I feel overwhelmed, it’s usually because I’m doing too much. And I’m trying to do too much because I want to hang on to everything. But the momentary balance of Equinox encourages me to let go of something for a season so I can embrace whatever the new season has for me.

And based on my experience, those things I let go of usually pop up again in a season yet to come.

The {New} New Year

I’ve always thought of Fall as the real New Year. My kids are back in school, my clients are back from their summer time off, and I start setting goals and routines into place for the coming season, both personally and professionally.

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This week I had to make a list of Things That Are Stressing Me Out Right Now. My brain was filled with worry and conflicting priorities, so I wrote it all down in hopes that the piece of paper would carry my worries away.

Unfortunately, my paper was not a magical problem solver, but at least I was able to see clearly that I was hanging on to too much and that maybe it’s time to make a change.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by All The Things, maybe it’s time to let go of the balance fantasy and embrace the tilt. Thoughts?

Four Podcasts I’m Into Right Now

I was on a big podcast kick this summer and listened to stuff whenever I could — walking, cooking, driving — pretty much anytime I wasn’t writing. Even my kids were on board and loved listening to a couple of shows with me.

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These shows are among my favorites:

Being Boss
These gals are chatty but full of practical tips and real world experience in running a creative services business. Also, they’re both moms who juggle All The Things and STILL have time for the side hustle. It was their show that gave me a framework for sorting through all the hats I wear so I could figure out which hats to delegate to someone else. I’ll write more about that in another post!

Startup
I have a big writer-crush on Alex Blumberg, so it’s not hard to binge-listen to his show. In fact, I think I listened to ten episodes while on a road trip with my family last winter. I love his vulnerability and willingness to be imperfect while still producing quality stories.

I also love that both seasons of his show explore the idea of growth businesses versus lifestyle businesses, a subject I wrestle with almost daily. Do we want to scale quickly and wear pants and commute to a studio and google “how to set up a 401k for your employees”? Or do we love being a small, boutique studio that grows just enough each year that we have time to catch our breath?

Mystery Show
Starlee Kine is great at asking questions and drawing out the hidden stories. I love each and every rabbit trail she explores because there’s always something interesting and unexpected to hear. For instance, the heart to heart she has with the call center guy on the Brittany Spears episode! She challenges me to lighten up my all-business mode and let myself be more curious.

(Fun Fact: I saw the Welcome Back Kotter lunch box from this episode while visiting the National Museum of American History this summer!)

The Writer Files
I love the structure of this podcast. Each week the host asks his writer/author guest the same set of questions about their habits, writing style, and source of inspirations. Even if I don’t know the guest, I learn something new about a great tool, or trick to overcome roadblocks, or insight into the source of creativity. And because of the formulated interview structure, there’s very little frivolous chit chat.

I have other shows I listen to, but these are my current top picks. What are you listening to right now? Leave a comment!