As we see our calendars fill with the return of after work plans, events and networking opportunities, it’s ok if you feel more overwhelmed than excited.
As a creative, you know your job is mainly supported by two things – your previous work and your connections. But as an introvert, an event filled with people to connect with may feel more overwhelming than welcoming. There is a middle point to be discovered to find comfort in your discomfort. Here are a few ideas to keep your relationships forging ahead to grow your business and your community.
1. Have a homebase. Before an event, no matter how big or small, temp-check the invite or rsvp list to see who you already know that is attending. No one looks familiar? Invite a friend or colleague to join you. I know this may seem counterintuitive for an event where you are supposed to meet people – but having the homebase of someone you are already comfortable with will give you the support you need to shine. Take breaks, bring others into your conversation and ease into it.
2. Take home two. Instead of expecting to walk into the room and leave with 15 new connections, work at your level of comfort and aim to forge a true, authentic connection with two new people. That may look like something as simple as an exchange of emails, or as awesome as a date set to grab coffee the following week. Set your goals attainable to set yourself up for success.
3. Focus on the follow up. While you may not have had a chance to meet everyone at the event, use the guest list as an opportunity to familiarize yourself with who will be there, and have a plan to follow up with everyone you were interested in connecting with after. Whether it’s a friendly DM saying hi, an email asking for a call, or an invitation to get lunch – have a communication plan in place to keep the conversation going after the fact – even with those you missed.
4. Ask for an intro. See someone you’d love to meet? See a name on the guest list and realize you wish you could have connected? Look to your existing network to connect you with the one before they become the one that got away. How often are we led by fear and realize an opportunity has been lost? A go-to path? Find the host and say, hey, I’d love to meet them, can you introduce us? Sometimes, even as introverts, we have to jump in, both feet first.
5. Lean into your strengths. Are you better face-to-face? Then capitalize on the in-person connections you can make while at the event and use your follow up to make in person plans. Excellent at email and communication? Then get those notes out the next morning to keep the conversation moving. These small efforts will feel incremental but the end goal will afford you a rewarding community built by you, using your strengths without needing to be the loudest person in the room.
Photographer - Ashley Camper
Food & Prop Stylist - Lindsay Champanis
Rachel Katz has built a career managing the brand, marketing, and PR for some of the strongest hospitality brands in the industry, in addition to consulting with emerging brands. Rachel works as the co-founder of a strategic marketing and brand collective, The Brand Set, consulting on and advising high-growth start-ups and established brands, and is the founder and CEO of Starbright Wine, a personalized subscription service and online wine retailer based in Atlanta, GA.