You've heard their advice.
You've heard their advice.
Step out of your comfort zone! Mingle!
Make a new friend at lunch every day!
Smile! Look approachable!
Everybody has an area of expertise! Give a workshop!
Are they kidding?
Have you ever noticed that the people who offer advice to us shy types are often jolly, talkative, outgoing extroverts who have absolutely no clue what HELL we introverts go through at times like this?
I mean, seriously! Mingle? Smile? Don’t they get it? If I smile at someone, that person might actually talk to me! Then what’ll I do? Answer them? Talk? I don’t think so! Spill my guts? It’s not going to happen! I’ll hem and haw and splutter and make a fool of myself – as usual! I might drool. I’m better off hiding in my room. Hey, people will bring me food and alcohol. It’s called room service. You should try it!
I’ve really got to mingle?
Okay, so how does a painfully shy person manage to enjoy a huge writers conference, meet new friends, mingle, impress industry professionals, and come home refreshed, revitalized and ready once again to take on the New York publishing industry?
Well, it helps to have friends in the Lair! Be sure to look for any of the Banditas wherever you go (your chances of spotting us are much higher if you’re in the bar). But what if you truly don’t know anyone?
Well, I’m here to help! I’ve come up with a few helpful hints and I call them…
The Three—no, Four—wait, Five!—Habits of Highly Effective Shy People. Catchy, don’t you think? I should’ve come up with seven but I’m really shy, so give me a break.
1. “You have a pretty smile.” Really? I thought you were kidding about the whole smiling thing. I should smile more often? Yes, you should. People actually respond and appreciate someone who smiles at them. Editors will see your smile and like you. They'll look at your badge and remember your name and buy your book. This is a habit you could get used to, so try it.
2. “Can I bring you a shot of gin?” Be generous. Offer advice. Lend someone a pen. Show someone where the goodie room is. Better yet, show them where the bathroom is. It’s good karma, and people remember you later. Especially agents. Statistics prove that writers who show an agent where the bathroom is end up signing with that agent and selling more books than anyone else.
3. “Fake it ‘til you make it.” It’s lunch time and you’ve got to face those thundering hordes in that huge conference hall. It’s enough to drive a shy person right back up to her room where she can relax and watch Oprah. But NO! You must persevere! Here’s what you do. Look around for a familiar face. Not really, because you have no friends. You don’t know anybody. But you’re faking it, remember? So look around for someone. Darn it, you think. Where did that person, that fake friend of mine, go? Now find a table with an empty chair and an appealing vibe, glance around the room once more, then shake your head and say to whoever’s sitting nearest, “I can’t seem to find my critique partner. Is this seat taken?” Then sit down and say hello. Voila! You start the meal and the conversation on an even keel, with them knowing you’ve got friends--whether it's true or not! They don’t feel sorry for you, and you don’t feel sorry for yourself. Everybody’s ready to chat and have a nice meal. Uh, pass the congealed salad dressing, please?
4. “Hi, my name is Marla, and I’m sorry.” Okay, stop it. Don’t apologize. Shy people often feel like they’re intruding or imposing, but it’s not imposing to say hello and show an interest in someone else. It’s friendly! Try it! Without apologizing. Unless you step on their foot. That’s really awkward. You should apologize and try not to do that again.
5. “What are you writing?” Even shy people like to talk about themselves and if someone asks them this question, they’ll jump right in. So ask a question. Then listen to the answer. It’s the best way to keep the conversation going and possibly make a new friend. Hopefully that friend is a multi-published author who’ll introduce you to their agent who will quickly sign you up and sell your books for lots of money!
Good luck, shy people!
Okay, your turn! You don’t have to be going to conference to share today. Are you an introvert? Are you shy? Do you have any hints to share with the rest of us? Any tips to get us out there and mingling?
And you extraverts out there! I know you’re dying to give some networking advice! Please share your best experiences with us!