By Anna Dower
If you had asked me two years ago if I considered myself an introvert or an extrovert, I wouldn’t have even blinked an eye: my answer would have instantly been INTROVERT.
After all, I sat in front of my computer every day, communicating with clients and peers almost solely via the Internet. I often formed friendships and relationships with people I had never met before - let alone spoken to. I rarely, if ever, had face-to-face meetings.
That suited me just fine. I was never one for small talk. I didn’t enjoy being in the spotlight and besides, all the cool people were introverts anyway, right?
However to be honest, it did get lonely at times.
Which is probably why, two years later, I am now putting myself out there. In a mega way!
These days you will find me happily chatting on podcasts, doing video interviews, running in-person workshops, flirting with the camera on professional photoshoots and, most importantly, enjoying it.
With the help of a beautiful community of like-minded boss ladies, I changed. My Dream Big Community was always meant to be strictly online (nice and safe for an introvert!) but over the years friendships formed, we all became cheerleaders for each other and it eventually came to a point where I knew it was time to meet these inspirational entrepreneurs in real life.
Much to the surprise of my inner introvert, that’s exactly what I did. Under the guidance of the very talented and clever event organiser, Jade McKenzie, I threw a Christmas dinner event in Brisbane and Sydney (because being a solopreneur is extra tough during the silly season, when everyone else is attending Christmas parties).
Both dinners were sold-out and pre-event my anxiety levels were off the charts - after all I was an introvert, what the heck was I thinking? What would I talk about? What if everyone thought I was hideous (my Facebook profile pics are very kind!)? What if … What if … What if …
Somehow, and despite my fears, I made it through the first event in one piece. But better than that, I made it through the first event with a giant grin on my face. I’d made new friends, reconnected (in person!) with existing ones and done myself proud. All while being true to my inner introvert.
It made me realise by refusing to step outside of my comfort zone and into the real world, by refusing to fully show up, I had done myself a great injustice. It also helped me realise that hosting and running events (even as an introvert!) has many awesome benefits. Here are just some of them:
+ Those names and profile pics I’d been chatting with online for years … they were real people too. With their own quirks, insecurities, stories and full-to-the-brim inspiration.
+ People are kind. Even if you suck at small talk. And even if you participate in your own one-woman drinking game of sip and speak to help get over your initial anxiety.
+ When you put yourself out there, people see you. Sounds pretty obvious, but for a long time I thought that people would just find me, without me having to be seen. But people don’t have time to find you … you need to show them who you are and what you’re about.
+ There was absolutely nothing to fear. The women I met and interacted with at my events weren’t criticising me or talking behind my back like I’d feared they would. They were warm, welcoming and supportive.
+ It’s pretty darn good for business. By talking face-to-face with new people and getting to know them on a personal level, I was able to connect with them in a more meaningful way. I gained leads, friends and even new business.
Last but not least, I know for a fact that by hosting my own events, I positioned myself as a quasi expert. My brand is more memorable and I’m more confident because of it.
Not too bad for an introvert, huh?
Anna Matjasec is an art director, graphic designer, and the creative force behind Design With Style. She is the co-founder of ROOOAR, the digital magazine that's redefining the landscape for female entrepreneurs. She’s also a business mentor, using her hard-won wisdom and expert insights to help her clients bring their big-ass biz dreams to life.