I’m shy. That is the reason why I sometimes don’t talk to people I know when I haven’t seen them in a while, or why I am tongue-tied in a small crowd. It probably comes across as being snobby, and if you have felt slighted by me in the past, please accept my apology and know that it was just because I am shy.
As Jeff Haden (Ghostwriter, speaker, LinkedIn Influencer, Inc. Magazine contributing editor) says in his LinkedIn article “Hate Making Small Talk? One Approach ANYONE Can Use” :
“stick me in a room with a bunch of people I don’t know and expect me to mingle and everything changes.
“Instantly, I’m shy and insecure. I dread the thought of walking up to people I don’t know and making small talk. Not because I don’t like people, but because in that situation I really don’t like me. I’m not outgoing, I’m not gregarious, not extroverted. I’m the ultimate wallflower.”
He was talking about himself in that quote, but he could have been talking about me. Except I get that way even with people I do know.
The one helpful thing I can add to his great advice has to do with the fact that when I am in that situation, I can’t THINK of anything to say to anyone. Several years ago I read a book (I don’t remember who wrote it, but thank you) that gave me a tool to use to get my brain working again when it’s frozen in shy, uncomfortable mode. It has helped me a lot since reading it, and I want to share it with you.
When you need to talk to a stranger and can’t think of anything to say, think about “FORM,” an acronym for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Money. Most people love to talk about themselves, or at least feel like they can have a conversation about the topic without too much trouble, so if you ask them about their family, their occupation, their recreation (or what they do for fun), and their money (business/career/the price of gas, etc), by the time you run out of topics or they quit talking about themselves, you are either new friends and have found a common interest you can easily chat about, or you can safely go on about your way.
I hope Jeff’s advice and my tip help you if you’re another wallflower. And if you’re not shy about talking to strangers and just want to build up a network in a new profession as quickly as possible, follow the advice of Brian Grazer that is similar to Jeff Haden’s in his article