The Introvert’s Guide To Meeting Strangers Without Feeling Fake Or Awkward

If you hate small talk, you are not alone. I recently attended the home-going services of my very well-known, well-respected, well-loved mother-in-law. I knew the service would be well-attended. So of course, I feared going. There would be so many people I really didn’t know, but would have to talk to anyway. I was a nervous wreck. Would everyone think I was weird? Would I be able to contribute anything meaningful to a conversation? Would I be sitting in the corner with a glass of tequila feeling lonely?

Luckily, I had a secret weapon. This secret weapon helped me feel confident without once feeling like an outsider. I was able to connect with everyone I came in contact with by using a little something I’ve created called — The H.E.R. Method! All you need to do is remember three simple things and with practice, you’ll be working every room and leaving lasting impressions like a pro.

Even introverts, like myself, want to share something about ourselves from time to time because it makes us feel good. Extroverts have no shortage of things to talk about. But what about us? The next time you’re at a social-sucking shindig that you couldn’t find the perfect excuse to get out of, because they wouldn’t understand what it meant to be excited about looking forward to doing absolutely nothing, arm yourself with these three topics:

The Setup

Stop waiting to be introduced to someone. Introduce yourself to someone else who looks just as awkward as you feel. They will be more than happy to meet you.

The H.E.R. Method!

H — Hobbies

Hobbies will include things like travel, scrapbooking, real estate investing, gambling, fly fishing, and so on. You could simply ask, “So have you read any good books lately?” You’ll find out if people are reading anything at all or a good book you can add to your library. If you ask this question and they’ve got nothing, end the conversation and move on to someone who does because leaders are readers. Show me a leader that doesn’t read and I’ll show you a baby that has never cried.

Or try “What show are you binge watching?”

Binge-watching is an addiction these days. Binge-watching, made popular by Netflix, is to watch many or all episodes of (a TV series) in rapid succession. Some people do not want to admit this addiction. But you must persist.

E — Excited about

“What are you up to that’s got you excited these days?” This is where you discover what they have going on in the near future or what they’re working on. A business venture, a promotion at work, retirement plans, and so on.

This is way more specific than the standard, “So what’s up? What’s new with you?” For which you get a boring and predictable Nothing much response. People should be excited about something in life, if they have a pulse. This question will make them focus on the possibilities.

If you are a podcast addict, like me, many podcasts hosts will ask their guests about current or upcoming projects they’d like to promote. John Lee Dumas of “E.O.Fire” will ask, What has you fired up right now? Beth Buelow of “The Introvert Entrepreneur” will ask, What’s making you smile today?

R — Relationships

People will either brag or bitch about their family, their friends, their coworkers, their pets, and the organizations they belong to. Never miss an opportunity to ask about at least one. You could ask, “How do you know the host?” Usually, people will reveal some awesome or embarrassing stories about how they first met.

Now let’s use The H.E.R. Method! at a work-related or business event. These are cringe-worthy events because of the dreaded idea of networking.

Hobbies:

“What do you do when you’re not working?”

Excited about:

“What are you excited about?” Now think, How can I help this person? Who can I connect them with?

Relationships:

Who else do you know attending this conference? If they name someone, “Oh cool! How’d you guys meet?” If they name no one, make them your new best friend.

Why The H.E.R. Method! works? It shows you’re interested in them, which makes them interested in YOU! With The H.E.R. Method!, there’s no need to avoid small talk. There’s no need to fear it. There’s no need to feel awkward or fake about it. There’s no need to sit in the corner with a glass of tequila feeling lonely. You got this! Warning: You may make a new friend.

Previously published by Thought Catalog at www.thoughtcatalog.com.