just say “hi”: networking for introverts

Character and quality and what's "on the inside" is important, but when you can’t even get to the first act of saying “hi”, nothing will happen. 

There’s a reason people say extroverts are lucky. because the more people you meet, the luckier you get. Luck is randomly determined but the probability of receiving luck increases when you know more people. That’s why “networking” is such a big thing in business. But this act really isn’t limited to only networking events. Ready for the big secret? You can talk. To everyone. Yeah.

Networking doesn’t have to be professional - you don't have to be clogged up in black and white suits, stumbling in 5-inch heels. Networking doesn’t necessarily mean fake smiling with your red lipstick and exchanging business cards awkwardly. Striking up a conversation with the person next to you in line counts. Talking to someone you know but don't know well also counts. 

Just talk. What’s the worse that could happen?

I am a shy person and I have social anxiety to a certain degree, as in my heart literally beats out of my chest when I need to talk to strangers, whether it’s raising my hand in class when I’m not 100% sure about my opinion, or daring to strike a conversation with someone I don’t really know. Socializing doesn’t come easy to me, unless you’re already my best friend (in which case, I don’t know how we got to this comfortable stage in the first place). 

But just because it’s hard doesn’t mean I don’t need to do it. We live in an extroverted society after all where talking is the key to anything. You can have all the skills and brains in the world, but if you can’t verbally communicate properly with your boss or whatnot, you won’t get the opportunities you want. 

I’m someone who really wants to succeed. And if I want that badly, then I need to start speaking up more. 

Before, I’ve always somewhat restrained myself, told myself that it’s okay to not talk to as many people, that it’s okay to restrain my participation in class because quality over quantity, right? That’s fucking bullshit. 

How many people are actually sure about their ideas before they express them? How many are fully prepared for anything they do in life? Not everything is prepare-able. So much of life is spontaneous. Random interview questions - for example, at a consulting club interview I was recently asked, “How many freshmen go to the gym everyday at USC?” What the fuck. I had no idea. I had no experience with thinking on my feet and I didn’t know how to BS some crap up that still sounds intelligent. 

At first, I was shit mad that they would ask me something so hard. Then I realized well guess what, this is life. Spontaneous things are going to happen. Your boss is going to ask you a random question, he’ll toss you a problem and ask for your solution straightaway - what are you gonna do then? Say I don’t know? 

Grow up. I need to practice speaking without being prepared and striking up casual conversations. I’ve always looked down on small talk because it “wasn’t deep,” because I believed in quality, but now quantity is key. The numbers add up. Out of all the people you’ve talked to, all the people you’ve dared sit down with and meet, maybe one of them will end up being your best friend. Maybe one of them will help you get into the club or internship you want. Maybe one of them will end up changing your life around and turning it upside down. 

It all starts with a dare, I guess. It all does.