Shook up.

gabriel1220   gabriel12202

Today Gabe is wearing a blue sweatshirt, a white t-shirt, red shorts, one grey sock, one brown sock, and white sneakers.

He is wearing shorts because today, for the first time in what feels like forever, it wasn’t pouring rain! What a relief. It has been so unpleasant outside, and just generally the pits.

Last night Gabe and I went to a holiday party with some friends, where Gabe enjoyed the benefits of being “the plus-one who didn’t know anyone at the party”. It was a work-related party for an organization I occasionally do some on-call work for, but mostly am not in the office all that often. As such, Gabe felt free to cut loose and take over the dance floor with a couple of other very enthusiastic party guests.

As usual, he was pretty much the life of the party. I’m always impressed by Gabe’s ability to just walk up to anyone and not only start a conversation with them, but have the kind of conversation that leaves the other person feeling really excited about their interaction. Even the stone-faced HR guy had to crack a smile when Gabe quizzed him on the intricacies of HR policy: “So what exactly does an FBI background check entail? What if you were just accused of a felony?”.

I write a lot about the importance of networking and relationship-building for my work, but putting those things into practice is maybe my biggest personal career challenge. I guess I’m shy? I don’t really feel nervous about meeting new people or trying to think of things to talk about with them. Once I get to talking it’s all normal and easy. It’s just that moment before you walk up to someone new that I all of a sudden am paralyzed by the feeling that I just can’t do it.

This is a skill I really need to get better at. Maybe it could be my New Year’s resolution? I’ve read a lot of guides on networking for introverted weirdos, and it seems like the key is setting small, achievable goals. Like, at every event I attend, I will talk to two new people and get their contact info. Or at least talk to two people, period.

Do any of you have trouble with networking or even just making conversation with people you don’t know? I feel like lots of people struggle with it, and I’d love to hear what strategies, tips, secret weapons other people have employed to get over the hurdle. 🙂



  1. craftcastic

    I am afraid I have no “tips” or “tricks,” but I identify with the difficulty of putting ideas into practice-especially when it comes to social interaction. Writers seem to have all the answers on paper but struggle in the real world. Anyway! I will love to see what others have to say on the topic.

  2. paulheels

    I can go in a room of 100 strangers, and come out with 100 new friends in hours. I have the gift of gab, and can talk the ears off a billy goat. Bearders tend to be extrovert, grow one and see what happens!
    This is a personality, it’s difficult to change personalities. My advice is to not try so hard. Because that’s not who you are, it makes you look awkward.
    Like me trying to be quiet, doesn’t work, I look dumb.

  3. jaymesbrown

    I have the same issue around people most of the time. When I was younger it was easy to just make conversation with strangers, or new people. Over time that has changed with me. Like you I just suck at breaking the ice. For instance I was in an Electronic Media Production course for two years with two students and never spoke to them till the last semester. In my last semester I was placed into a group with them where our final was to Produce a 4 episode series . To make a long story short, the team worked out great. It was great getting to know those guys.

    So as far as advice goes I can only tell you what I try to do. I try to listen a lot more than I talk, get a feel on someone’s personality. I pay attention to their non verbal language. If the person pass my weirdo radar then I introduce myself and go from there.

    • Kate Stull

      It’s so true – once you break the ice and get to know most people, it’s almost always a positive experience. Your tips are great too, especially the one about paying attention to non-verbal cues. I’m definitely incorporating that one! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Sheryl

    I’m always slightly jealous of individuals who can easily meet new people. But, I try– If I don’t know anyone in a room I tend to circulate around the room until I find someone standing at the edges who isn’t talking to anyone–and strike up a conversation with that person. I’ve met lots of interesting people that way.

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