If you are anything like me, meeting new people is very uncomfortable. I am the type of person who replays past conversations over and over in my head. I analyze every word I said. It is exhausting and the best way to avoid it is to avoid social situations. I know this is un-healthy and I'm working on changing it.
The cool thing about networking or any kind of social situation is, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. So my best advice is to just do it and do it often. I have to force myself to go to networking meetings and social situations all the time. I get all excited and sign up for an event but as the event gets closer and closer the reasons to cancel or not go start popping into my head. It’s not that I don’t enjoy people because I do. The problem for me is I suck at small talk. I want to be real and genuine and if I ask you about a subject or something about you, I want to ask because I genuinely care. My problem is until I am comfortable around you and have really engaged multiple times with you, I don’t know enough about you to genuinely be able to talk to you.
So what I do before any social situation is think of topics that I think may be of interest to the group I am about to be around. If I am going to a networking meeting for small businesses I will think what is important for me as a small business owner. This gives me some planned subjects to talk about incase I freeze in the moment. This seems to take some of the pressure off of me. This way I can have a meaningful conversation, which is extremely important to me.