Being shy and having to start a conversation
Written on the 2 February 2017 by Janet Culpitt
Many people would not realise that I myself am a naturally shy person.
I usually overcome this by talking too much when I meet someone new. I find myself babbling at times.
If I am not doing this I will say nothing and not make eye contact hoping if I'm not looking at people they wont expect me to talk to them.
Who can relate to this?
Well you would be surprised just how many outgoing people attending networking events can be a shy person by nature.
When it comes to attending a networking event Vs networking on-line , you usually have to start a conversation.
If you are shy this is daunting and can be stressful and also make you nervous.
I suggest try starting with hello. Keep it simple and that will help you with confidence.
Be polite and listen if the other person is talking.
Introduce yourself - you should know your name at least ,no matter how shy or nervous you are.
If it is at the beginning of an event you could ask if they have been to this group or event before,what they think of the venue, comment on the weather, giving them some sort of compliment will make them warm to you ( as long as you don't sound sleaszy that is).
Take the conversation further from their response - eg if they say no you can say me neither and admit your nervous. You will probably find they are too.
If they say yes you can ask them about it and encourage them to tell you about the procedures etc , how long they have been going , where is the best place to sit, why they started coming.
If they are on their own they are probably nervous too.
Ask who the organiser is if you don't know. Introduce yourself to the host and let them know your new and a little uncomfortable. Any good host or organiser will try and connect you to another person to help you overcome this.
If you are forced to change seats during an event to meet someone new you could introduce yourself and then ask something like " what do you think of the event so far " or even admit you are always uncomfortable when having to change seats and ask if they are too.I will l cover this in another article as this is a very common occurrence and I know the benefits but I also appreciate the difficulty it creates ( unless you are a lover of speed networking - of which I am not)
Always remember to listen to the other persons response and take it in.This helps you with conversation!
I was once told that by putting your tongue on the top of your mouth engages your brain to listen. Well ,I tried it and yes it works. It does stop the babbling on and also allows you to listen and most importantly breathe.
( Tip: remember to move your tongue when you do go to talk or you will sound silly)
Of course if all else fails you can take a friend to networking events with you until you become comfortable to start conversations.
You will need to practice at events and don't worry it does get easier. As you begin to recognise people you will feel less shy and be able to approach them and say hi and feel not so alone.
Above all do not start selling or automatically hand over business cards .You don't want to be perceived as pushy. Introducing yourself initially involves saying your name. Don't automatically proceed to go onto what you do and the name of your business. When asked you can then answer and make it a part of continuing the conversation..
If you are prepared and have practiced a introduction as I mentioned in a previous article about Speaking in Public , you can select pieces of that introduction and place into conversation in pieces, and that will develop the conversation.
This is what I have used to overcome shyness and starting a conversation without looking and feeling like a fool . I am myself. I am worthy of recognition and not rudeness. My business is just as important as theirs. I am unique because I'm me. I treat every person I am seeing , approaching , starting a conversation with as someone entering my workplace. I greet them and introduce myself as I would a " customer coming to the counter"
This has worked well for me.
I would love to hear from you how you overcome being shy and how you start conversations.
Author: Janet Culpitt
About: Janet Culpitt is a mentor for passionate SME business owners, looking to expand their business and create a successful plan for growth and sustainability. Her life long experience in the business industry and entrepreneurship, allows her to educate and lead her clients to developing impeccable skills in networking, forming long lasting connections.Connect via: Twitter LinkedIn