Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Introverted Extrovert’s Overview of Networking Trials and Tribulations

Or is it an Extroverted Introvert? Either way, for some reason I get oddly shy around agents and editors. And I am not a shy person usually. So why? Why, why, why? My attempts at self-analysis have revealed that it is probably because I’m afraid I will offend or scare them with my sense of humor.

Bring An Invisible Friend

If I were introduced to an editor or agent in a group in which I had a friendly face or two, I could at least get some banter going with someone I know will respond, but I need that sort of intro or else I may come off as weird. It’s like I need to bring a human example with me to show the stranger that I am not scary.

Deviating From Center

I just make jokes…even when I’m nervous. I can’t help but make jokes (I mean, I can hold it together at a funeral, but in general, I bring humor into conversations as a way to break the tension, so I can go from heavy to levity on a dime). It’s a fine line between quirky humor, and just plain scary/unpredictable, and I’m constantly pushing it, reading the person to see if I can take it further. I ramp it up fast, and some people are just too surprised or they don’t dig my brand of humor, but I just want to get through the uncomfortable part of winning someone over as fast as possible. It might be a weakness, but in situations like a conference, I feel an overwhelming need to be liked, and I start blathering in an attempt to keep strangers engaged and amused. I guess this is my inner stand-up comedienne rearing her head.

On A Scale From Bore to Loon, I am…?

But talking to an agent or an editor one-on-one, and I get so worried that I’ll say the wrong thing and I’ll make the most disastrous first impression, that I shut down, and I have to remind myself every three seconds to just be myself. But at the same time, I have to network and be agreeable, which is tough when all I want to do is banter. And it starts to feel unnatural if I don't tell jokes. I’m sure there are agents and editors out there who can pick up what I’m throwing down, but I think their defenses are so high when they meet a stranger at one of these events, that I might read as a “false positive” on their loony meter. (At least that’s what I’m telling myself, haha).

The Solution!

Okay, this may not actually be a solution. And okay, this might just be a lame punchline. But, here goes anyway: Maybe I should just wear a label that reads: “WARNING: May Tell Lame Jokes Unexpectedly.”

Because, notice I didn’t say I was funny . . . I just said that I tell jokes.


Bring on the rotten produce - I'm here all night, Ladies & Gentlemen!

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