Thriving as an Introvert in Shared Spaces
Ironically, introversion has received more attention over the last few years. Studies and leaders are recognizing introversion isn’t necessarily a “bad” quality, even if its contemplative traits go against the outgoing American stereotype. Even when pitching coworking spaces, we tend to paint them as ideal for the go-getter, extroverted types (and they are). If you prefer solo time to group time, don’t be dissuaded; introverts can find value in coworking.
You’re not the life of the party and find introductions awkward. It’s okay. Even the most outgoing person has stumbled. Laugh about it. Apologize. Move on. Remember, even the most confident people do experience social doubt. You are not alone.
Remember your strengths
It can be overwhelming walking into a packed coworking space. Remember, you don’t have to meet every single person. It’s okay to focus on a limited number of quality contacts. Finding a few key relationships may be all you need to boost your business. While attending events and seminars are great networking opportunities, no rule says you must attend everything. Go to the offerings that make sense for you.
Set the tone of your business with the community profile. Include important business details to allow others to discover you organically. Let them handle the introduction work. At the same time, use the profiles to research others in your community. Narrow down the few you’d like to know. Send them a message to say hello. Consider scheduling a brief, casual chat over coffee in the lounge, away from the crowd.
Skip the Small Talk
You can chat about the weather, or you can channel into an introvert’s need for deeper connections to ask an insightful question. Think, “What’s been challenging you this week?” or, “What do you like most about your job?” The person might end up more impressed with you thanks to the thoughtful questions.
It’s okay to have alone time
Bottom line: you’re in a coworking space to get work done. It’s okay to unplug from the community. No one said you had to network every single day. Most people understand and respect the need to produce work. Put on those noise-canceling headphones, find a quiet corner and get cracking.