Dear CoachFaith: I am a shy person. I can’t even hid it – am sure mine is a sort of disorder, I am extremely shy, it has obviously denied me of so many opportunity. However, against all odds I was favoured to land a banking job about a year ago, I work at the HR department of a leading Nigerian commercial bank, however the first thing my colleagues observe about me (even before my great IQ) is this shyness thing…am tired of this negative attention. I need help! And now it obvious my progress is tied to my network, so how do I go about this? – Israel, Abuja
Dear Israel, I will go straight to the networking part of your question, however for other personal tips check the attached document. Networking can be an important skill to develop. It can help people establish relationships with others. These relationships can be used for various purposes including opening up opportunities that can help you succeed professionally and in other aspects of life. But for shy people, networking can be quite a challenge. Here are some tips for the socially challenged to start building up their own personal networks.
For shy people, social gatherings can be quite intimidating and overwhelming. This would not be an easy venue for them to begin building their networks immediately. Instead, they can develop networking skills by starting out small. You can go to smaller and more informal gatherings of friends and try to get to know some people from there. It may be easier to get to know other people among those you are familiar with. This might further help give you the confidence to approach others and start conversations with them.
If you are shy and find it hard to approach people, there are certain ways to make others approach you instead. One of them is by learning to smile. This simple effort can make people see you as friendly and approachable. As you learn to smile at others, even at just strangers that pass you by at gatherings, you will find others approaching you and starting a conversation. But once this happens, you have to be ready.
Since you need to talk with other people when you build up your network, it pays to have your conversation skills polished. It is not just merely being eloquent that would work for you. All you need to do is to prepare certain topics interesting enough to talk about. Aside from certain acceptable personal questions, you might also want to prepare some things that you may want to ask others when the situation calls for it.
Just Be Yourself
Trying to put up an act can sometimes be bad if you wish to build up your network. It would be better if you try to be yourself as you try to make friends and introduce yourself to colleagues. Be honest and try to be comfortable when you meet up with others. This will be a good start to build up your network.
Best of luck in your career, I will follow-up on your progression.
NOTE: Dear Readers, this will be the beginning of a series on shy people watch-out!