I’m an introvert. This is no secret. I like to work on my stuff more than I like to socialize. This character trait is my greatest strength and my biggest weakness.
If I were to follow the path of least resistance, I would withdraw completely from society, live entirely in my basement, and eventually be consumed by my cats. Fortunately, I’ve got enough of a self-preservation instinct to prevent this from happening.
My drive to connect
From a purely business perspective, I’ve got a few pretty important things going that require me to maintain a certain amount of social interaction. I own my own business which needs clients in order to survive. And I’ve got a blog and webcomic which thirst for more traffic and a bigger audience.
The trouble is that now, with children, the amount of time and opportunity to network with people has been drastically reduced. The lazy part of me is very pleased with the development, but the responsible part is alarmed.
So I’m starting up an effort to get myself out there more and connect with people. And because it’s more convenient and doesn’t require strict attention to personal hygiene, I’ve started with the internet.
The Internet will provide
Months ago, I made the rounds creating accounts on all the hip social networking sites and promptly neglected to follow up. So they’ve lain fallow until recently, passively accumulating friends and links, and little else. I’ve narrowed my focus to three main methods of expanding my e-footprint on the net
At this point, I’m investing more in Facebook than the others, as it seems to be the most active and well-populated. I accumulated friends by doing nothing more than simply having my name show up on a list for my hometown, high school and college.
But I’ve added a couple of photo albums and updated my profile slightly, and the numbers have increased. I’m still not very actively doing anything other than adding smart-assy status updates, but I’ll be attempting to do some more.
I guess this isn’t so much a social networking tool as it is a bullhorn. But I’m including it because I’ve heard Twitter described as a way to let people feel like they’re getting a more intimate look at what the Twitterer (me, in this case) is doing day to day.
Whether people are interested in being updated by what’ll likely become a litany of complaints about no sleep, fussbudget babies, and poor attempts at humor, that remains to be seen. But if so, my Twitter handle is qburger.
This is the least touched account at this point, but after reading up on a few articles about how best to use the network, it seems like it will be the most useful, professionally speaking. It’s on the to-do list to investigate further.
Meatspace: the real challenge
I know that I’ve eventually got to get out in to the real world and start to climb out of my safe little warren, and actually talk to people.
David Seah is a blogger and designer who shares some similar personality traits. But he’s been more successful than I have about getting out and starting to overcome his learned behaviors and take advantage of what’s out there. He’s written a great guide for people like me who need a little help, who need to see a structured blueprint for how to take the first steps.
My greatest challenge is just introducing myself to someone I don’t know. It feels awkward, because I don’t know very much about the other person, and there is probably some anxiety about whether I will somehow appear foolish. This is an old childhood pattern, I realize.
He goes on to describe a realistic, rational facts about meeting new people. Once you are able to quantify and anticipate what will happen when you meet someone new, it becomes much less scary. Seah also offeres some great strategies that may come in handy as the introvert attempts to brave the rough seas of networking.
Using props to advertise your interests, which can spark conversations with strangers
Build impressions over time with people that frequent the same places you frequent, like coffee shops.
Use a service like Meetup that sets up real world meetings with people who are interested in the same sorts of stuff that you’re interested in.
At first blush, the article may appear to be just a detailed description of the obvious (especially to people who require no hand-holding when it comes to venturing outinto the light of day). But, believe me, this is going to be one of the items that I’m going to have printed out and clutched in a sweaty fist when I’m finally ready to do what must be done.