People usually say that Networking is a skill you need to learn in your 20s. How the heck am I supposed to do that if I avoid any social interaction, even the simplest kinds (like buying something!)
Well, the good news if there is any, is that you are not alone. I don’t know where in the world you are located but the Shyness Institute, in the USA, reports that over 50% of North Americans describe themselves as being shy in social situations.
You would think that with all this social media and on-line connectedness, we would become more social and less shy, but the opposite is true. This collective increase in our shyness has been attributed to several causes.
Going back to the 1950s, the invention of TV dinners may have been the start of it. Families were no longer sitting together for their evening meals and sharing the events of their day. Conversational skills declined. As the years and decades have passed, there has been a further erosion in families spending quality time together in what was considered a traditional family dinner.
Families nowadays come in all styles and there isn’t anything traditional. Many children have been deprived of opportunity to develop their conversational skills historically provided at shared family meals.
Along comes the invention of the Sony Walkman. We listened to our tunes on our earphones and didn’t have to listen to anyone else. ATM (automatic teller machines) have been considered another step in the increase of our shyness. We no longer must stand in line to do our banking. That means we no longer talk to other people in the line or the teller. The same applies to many stores. We do self-checkout and need not have social conversation anymore, if we choose not to.
Technology developed from Walkmans to Discmans and now to smartphones that can store a phenomenal amount of music. One only must look at a bus stop to see a dozen people intently looking at their smart phones, earbuds in place, frantically trying to avoid making eye contact with anyone else. Its sad, but it seems our new reality. If we let it!
The thing about shyness is that we all experience it differently. Simply put, shyness is a lack of self-confidence and skills to use in a social situation. Nothing more … nothing less. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person or a loser. It just means you haven’t yet developed your skills in this area.
Unless one experiences shyness them self, they cannot appreciate how debilitating it can be. The advice of “suck it up buttercup” is worthless and insensitive.
Many people have conquered shyness and you can too It will take a lot of work though. I have been fighting it all my life. I consider it a life-long journey of conquering shyness. I’ve researched shyness, I’ve studied it, I’ve wrote about it, and I speak about it. Some days I am fearless, some days my shyness will get the better of me and I will avoid attending an event.
I too have challenges with shyness preventing me from being effective in business networking. Networking is something that you must do if you want to stay in business. I’ve heard it said, that if you are not networking … you are not working! I believe that to be true. And you also must be networking all the time.
For further discussion of business & personal networking, visit the Live For Excellence Book Store for the following publications:
52 Power Networking Tips: How to Network Like a Pro
Blow Your Own Horn! Personal Branding for Business Professionals
You’re Hired! Leveraging Your Network: Job Search Strategies That Work
Power Networking For Shy People: How to Network Like a Pro
Rae A. Stonehouse is an author, speaker, and self-publishing consultant dedicated to helping others embrace constant improvement and overcome challenges. With over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and mental health, Rae brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for self-development to his writing and presentations.
As a 25+ year member of Toastmasters International, Rae has systematically built his communication abilities and self-confidence to share his insights as an author and speaker. His self-help books and personal development presentations aim to have conversational one-on-one connections with readers and audiences.
Rae is known for his wry sense of humor and sage advice delivered in a relatable coaching style. After four decades as a nurse, Rae has rewired rather than retired, actively writing and pursuing public speaking. He strives to share lessons learned to help others achieve personal and professional growth.