1. Use fear as a compass.
Fear is actually leading you the direction to make your life better. Once you embrace uncertainty and use it as fuel, life will really open up for you.
Simply force yourself to step outside of your comfort zones. We all have to take leaps of faith.
You can even use social media like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to facilitate face-to-face connections in a way that provide an initial level of familiarity and comfort with new people.
Did you know that modern scientific and psychological studies prove that when you interpret difficult, uncomfortable situations as “challenges” and “adventures,” we are better able to cope with stress and anxiety?
Get creative and push yourself to extend your boundaries. View each interaction, and each new social setting as a unique challenge, opportunity and adventure to meet new and wonderful people — who knows who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn, and what good could come to a stranger’s life thanks to your friendly smile.
2. Leverage the power of groups.
I’m a big believer in leveraging the power of groups to meet people. I think charity, nonprofits (museums, opera, symphony, etc.), and interest groups are fantastic places to meet new friends, network for business, and meet potential partners. Why? People’s defenses are down, their is trust given in a group (because everyone is their for a specific reason), and people are their to meet other people. You can meet anywhere from 5-15 new people in an hour or so, and many times you can do this in the middle of the week. It’s a much more effective and efficient way to go about it.
Google charities, museums, opera, symphony, parks, etc. along with your city name and check them out. You can also add search terms like young professionals, executives, entrepreneurs, gala events, happy hours, etc.
You can also contact the organizers and ask to work the check-in table at the start of the event. You can familiarize yourself with the room, meet people as they come in, and get yourself warmed up.
3. Get comfortable (and take a deep breath).
Outside of using social media to get yourself more familiar with people who will be in attendance at upcoming networking and social events, you can even visit the venue itself to get familiar with the “lay of the land.”
Do some affirmations. Watch a funny movie or TV show ahead of time. Try new things to get you motivated and psyched up.
Your happy, smiling, fun-loving state will carry over into the event and help you radiate with attractive, positive energy and invite new people to approach you for conversation. People want to talk to happy, positive people. Don’t you?!
4. Set simple goals.
Focus on setting simple goals. Meeting one new person every day — or even just one person in any social setting — helps to build your confidence, gather forward momentum and create a sensation of steady growth within you.
You can meet just one stranger per day, can’t you? 🙂
5. Get help from your (outgoing) friends (enroll them!).
This is an awesome bit of advice. Who are your most outgoing, social friends? You can “ride their coat-tails” and tag along with them to events you might not otherwise feel comfortable attending, and begin meeting new people through their naturally extroverted personality.
Don’t feel intimidated by your friend if he or she woos the room and you feel like you’ve taken a back seat or are hiding in the shadows. Remain confident and smiling. You can even ask your friend outright for help meeting people — they will happily help you.
How do I know? I’m the extrovert that brings my introverted friends out!!!
6. Embrace being nervous.
You’re nervous? Good. You’re alive. I’m an extrovert and I get nervous. Here is a major news flash: every single person has some social anxiety when they go out. EVERYONE!!
Like any skill, socializing takes practice. Social skills are learned behaviors. You aren’t born with them. They are like going to the gym. You can’t get in shape if you only go once a month!
Stretching your boundaries step-by-step will help you grow to become pretty good at witty banter and that typical back-and-forth of conversations when meeting new people.
7. Make it about them, not you.
I personally LOVE this tip. In any uncomfortable situation, an introvert’s best strategy is to simply take the attention off yourself by asking questions, becoming invested in the words the other person is saying, and deeply listening to their stories.
Take the attention off of yourself by making your interaction with someone about them and not you, and you won’t feel like you’re buckling under the pressure of “putting on a show.”
This technique will also make you feel more comfortable to open up yourself and get familiarized with the group of people with whom you’re spending time.
Jason Treu is an executive coach that works with individuals and teams on leadership and performance. Debuted at TEDxWilmington, his free team building, Cards Against Mundanity, is being played in hundreds of organizations to increase performance, creativity, and collaboration. His book, “Social Wealth: How to Build Extraordinary Relationships By Transforming the Way We Live, Love, Lead and Network“, has sold more than 50,000 copies.