I wasn't born with the 'popular gene' ... I never got the whole: let's have 12 friends who are all girls all at the same time ... I prefer to be alone or with 1 close friend at a time ... and don't even get me started on GROUP SETTINGS ... the thought sends chills up and down my spine. High school was a lot of 'loner' time for me. My outlet has always been writing or creating and those are typically the people in high school who are dubbed 'weird' ... I never really felt like I fit in and when I was able to 'just be' you'd find me in my room, alone, door shut and letting it all fly through music, writing a journal or designing something with scissors, paper and glue.
The Wedding Industry is interesting because it is a combination of introvert creatives and the outgoing bubbly personalities who were usually the popular crowd growing up. It can be intense at times, intimidating and since networking and growing relationships is HUGE in this industry those of 'us' who are shy in group settings can feel a little freaked out.
I wanted to share some things that have helped me through the years in surviving in this industry I call home ... in case I have some introvert buddies reading this who are feeling a bit stressed out ;)
Having a lunch with 4-6 industry professionals will feel much different than walking into a packed networking event. It's also way more personal and gives you the opportunity to really get to know one another in a more private setting. I recommend reaching out to 4 local wedding professionals in all different 'focuses' and setting up a lunch! For instance, if you are a wedding planner, then ask a photographer, florist, stationery designer and a caterer out ...
FOLLOW UP WITH ANOTHER PLAN
If lunch goes well, follow up with one person from the lunch date and make another plan. Choose the person who you most 'jived with' and keep it going! In fact, better still to make an individual plan with all the people from lunch so you can keep the relationship forming and moving forward. Talk about work and business stuff, but get personal as well ... getting to know people on a personal level is what creates friendships and this is important to surviving in the wedding industry.
TAKE IT TO A NETWORKING EVENT
When you feel like you have formed a solid bond with a select few in your local wedding industry 'group' then find a networking event and make it a thing! Go for drinks ahead of time with your buddies so you can walk into the networking event together. If you are shy, like me, then walking into a networking event alone is the kiss of death ...
WEAR YOUR GOOD ASS JEANS
We are in an industry where looks DO matter ... sorry, not sorry ... I'm not saying that to be successful you have to be a hottie with a naughty body ... but you do need to be pulled together well. This industry relies on beauty, current trends, the hottest styles and even the color of the year ... if you think that it stops at 'judging wedding details' then you have another thing coming. It's a good idea to pull yourself together for any event where you will run into people in your industry ... just trust me on this ;) Plus, if you have a good accountant, those 'good ass jeans' will be tax deductible ... wink, wink ... And, whoever said if you look good you'll feel good was RIGHT ...
Want people to take notice? Be involved ... on social media where you shyness can melt away while you wear your most comfy sweats and slippers ... Being active across social media by commenting and friending people on FB is a safe way to steer clear of crowds while being social all at the same time!
Tip: if you want people to take notice then make your comment seem REAL ... don't just write 'oh, so pretty!!' << not that you can't do that ... but if you are in it to start (hopefully) local relationships with other pros then try to be a bit more personal.
JUST ADMIT IT
If you find yourself in a position where you have to attend a networking event alone then I say just 'put it out there' ... once you get to your table or seat or 'corner' and you make eye contact with someone new, smile and say "these things are always so overwhelming!" ... add a little giggle and hopefully (as long as the person you picked to say this to isn't a total biatch) that person will say "omg, yes!! ... I'm so-and-so" and you two can chat about whatever ... I find that when I'm super uncomfy and I admit that I am it opens up the ability for other people to feel safe to admit that they are too.
Fun fact?? I used to break out in hives when I got nervous ... like, legit hives ... I would wear turtlenecks to all social events so that nobody would see them!! Srsly, no joke. Being shy and an introvert in an industry like ours isn't easy ... but if I can do it then anyone can do it!