Hi. My name is Nancy, and I’m an introvert. Yet I regularly talk to dozens of people all over the globe. And like it! How is this possible?
Before I continue, allow me to define “introvert.” An introvert doesn’t necessarily dislike or is afraid of people. We introverts mostly live in our heads. We have no trouble being alone for hours. Spending a lot of time with others saps our energy. To recharge, we retreat. Nevertheless introverts can be quite social when we want to be.
Before the rise of the Internet in the 1990s I had a bit of a problem: I was quite shy. I generally didn’t trust people. It took me a while to warm up to new acquaintances. Talking on the phone? A necessary evil. I wasn’t a hermit, but… reticent is a good word.
The Internet changed all of that. Even before the likes of Twitter and Facebook, you could talk to people on the other side of the world with a few keystrokes, and all behind the safety of your monitor. (The monitor part is especially valuable to introverts. We like to think things through before we speak.)
The first online locale that helped me broaden my horizons was the forums of the fantastic online radio station Radio Paradise. RP has thousands of listeners, many of whom are active in the discussion forums. They’re a friendly bunch and quickly drew me out of my shell. Before long I’d made several friends in the U.S., Canada, and abroad, and I’d never even spoken with them!
I knew that my perspective had changed when several years ago I decided to drive to Ohio for a RP meetup. Many of my “real life” friends and relatives were skeptical. I was going to drive hundreds of miles to meet a bunch of strangers from the Internet? What if they were ax murderers? After chatting with my RP friends online for a few years, I seriously doubted it. It was possible that the meetup might not go well, but unlikely. I knew these people, if only through exchanges of electrons.
The Ohio meetup, despite a cold snap that made camping less than ideal, was a success. We had a blast, and it was great to meet my online friends in person. It was so much fun that the following year I flew to across the country to attend a block party one RP friend was throwing.
Just to put this in perspective: li’l writer me, content more often than not to stay home with my sweetie and the critters and tip-tap on my laptop, flew across the country to ATTEND A PARTY. That’s kind of huge, as was the party. There was literal dancing in the Pasadena, California streets. It was epic.
From there my social confidence has grown. I no longer cringe at the thought of cold-calling someone. My writing partner Vanessa Brooks and I created a LLC for our online serial. Vanessa and I met online and have spoken on the phone once. She’s a good person. I had no qualms signing business contracts with her despite not having met her in person. The same applies to the inimitable MCM. I now handle the marketing and some of the cover art for his novels and novellas. Since he’s on the other side of the continent, I never would have met him without the Internet.
Then came Twitter. It took a little while to get the hang of it, but once I found the right group of people it became a lightweight, sprawling version of the RP forums. With millions of people using Twitter, it’s closer to the real world. Among the clueless marketers, shameless self-promoters, and bots are thousands of marvelous people. I’ve made more friends and will meet most of them some day. For now I’m happy to chat online.
The Internet has leveled the networking playing field for introverts who are comfortable online. It’s the equivalent of a worldwide convention magically contained in your computer. (Swimming in a sea of people at a traditional convention? Not appealing to introverts for long.) Once you get the hang of your social media of choice, it’s easy to find others with similar interests. Even better is finding a super-connector: a person who seems to know everyone. They exist online as well. (Steve‘s one of them.) They’re valuable allies who will likely help you find your next gig or further your current one. Follow the golden rule with super-connectors, connectors, and the shy ones testing the digital waters and you’ll be fine.
About the Author: A geologist turned web programmer turned writer and marketer, Nancy Brauer has yet to decide what she wants to be when she grows up. She’s been writing, drawing, and cracking open rocks for as long as she can remember. Nancy divides her spare time between writing the sci-fi/romance serial Strange Little Band with co-author Vanessa Brooks, working on an urban fantasy novel, and marketing the heck out of fellow writer MCM’s 1889 Labs. Photoshop trembles at the mention of her name. Nancy lives in southwestern Virginia with her partner, a dog who’s allergic to nearly everything, and two allergy-free cats. She really needs a proper web site. For now swing by Strange Little Band or look up @tenaciousN on Twitter.