Clicking ‘leave’‚Äč or Networking as an introvert

Someone messaged me via LinkedIn. Nothing unusual there. I get a few generic messages trying to get me to apply to jobs or go back to school. A few ongoing conversations with people I know in real life. The job ones I am like …. is this a real person? Is this a real job? Why would I want to work there when this email is not really personalized? I tend to ignore those robo messages. I apply back to friends and forget the rest.

But then I received one from a contact who just seemed to be using LinkedIn to network. Figure that! Actually using the platform to network in a way that is further than just ‘connecting’ to another person. I bit this bait and I am glad I did for it was a real person on the other end! We chatted back and forth a bit before they politely mentioned that if I was interested in working my side hustle I might be a good fit for what they were doing. I hesitated away from that, but kept the conversation going. I was enjoying the other talk and I could not really understand what it was they did for a living. We shared leads of networking opportunities with each other. Which led to my conflicted personality traits rearing their heads at the same time.

I signed up to join a free online networking opportunity they told me about. Who would not? I mean it was free. That’s my budget! So I was looking forward to the event, not having a clue what was in store. The go getter in me held the baton. Yes I signed up immediately, I was going to go and talk to everyone and share what I want to do and meet all these people who would love and hire me immediately!

Here I am. Registered. Logged in. Camera off. Mic off. Name not complete. What the hell do I put as a job? Then the host shared the event plans. What! They are going to have us breakout into rooms of two people!!! There is no way to hide from only one other person. Breathe. I go through two breakouts with no idea what I am saying, no elevator pitch ready or really receiving much interest from other people. And I forgot to ask them what they do. After the second breakout is done I click the leave button and I am out of there!

The leave button on Zoom. You have all seen it. And it is calling me from the moment they said rooms of two. Not only do I hit the leave button and leave Zoom. I leave the physical room I am in. Like they will not be able to see me now that I left the area.

I breathe and go back into the room. Sit back down and click that button on Zoom. Here I am again. Back in the room with my camera and mic on. The host is talking to one other person who was late to the event. I act like I had some internet problems, but I left. I hit the leave button and I have no regrets about it! I would do it again, but I am glad that I also faced my inner shy self and went back in. I ended up meeting more people. And even though this event was not my thing. I did find some inspiration from the people I talked to after I decided to go back in. Because I now had some knowledge of what was going to happen, what people were there for and how to better use my time. Instead of rambling on (which I think I was only doing in my head) I focused on either what I wanted to get out or asked them questions. Was this their first time? I found out it was for a lot of them. And for the person that said that they have been to these events for over 20 years, I asked why they keep going. What they did and so on. I actually had someone say maybe I could write for them in the future! Now that was an unpaid offer, but hey it was something. Even if we both knew I was not going to do that.

The important part of the night for me was this: I went back in. I let myself freak out, leave, leave the room. Heck I would have been okay if I needed to walk all the way outside or hide in the bathroom for awhile. In the future I may do that last one in real life.