Get out of the box

Being a journalist, I don’t like admitting that I’m an introvert. It makes me feel like I shouldn’t be good at my job — if I’m uncomfortable around people, how do I make those cold calls, understand people’s stories and approach people in general?

It’s not worth me trying to explain it when this article hits some of the highlights:

  • Use your job as armour
  • Let your curiosity override your anxiety
  • Do prep work to give yourself confidence
  • Pick up the phone before you psych yourself out
  • Remember that reporters make people nervous

Last week, I tweeted, “If you’re supposed to do one thing a day that scares you, then I should be about good for the week.” One of the biggest — positive — things I did last week was apply for and attend the Intervivos mentorship event. In a three-minute speed-dating set-up, we spent Thursday night networking with 18 mentors, all community leaders, mostly in the communications/digital sector of Edmonton.

I’ve never done something like that before, so everything was new to me, but it’s all the non-structure that really gets me. Before and after the actual event, there was about a half hour for people to mingle. I am not good at that. Should I work on it? Maybe (probably). I ended up finding B. and standing near her — not the greatest solution, but about the limit of my comfort level. I even said to her that it was both good and bad — good because it makes me less nervous when there’s someone I know around, but bad because if there wasn’t anyone I knew around, I’d be forced to make friends. Unfortunately, I think I skipped that day in kindergarten and am very bad at mingling with people.

Since I’m much better with one-on-one, the actual event was pretty cool once I settled into it. It’s crazy, but three minutes with some people is very, very short, and with other people, it just seems to drag on. Each meeting was being timed for the proper three minutes, but I do wonder a little about the reliability of the stopwatch. Joking aside, it’s probably more about perspective — some people I found really interesting, and there wasn’t enough time to touch on every piece of knowledge I wanted to gain from them, and others just weren’t able to offer what I wanted to know. Which is fair enough.

At the end, we filled out our top five picks of who we’d like as a mentor; the mentors filled out the same thing with who they felt they could best mentor, I guess. I find out this week if and with whom I’ve been paired.

There’s that adage, “It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know.” I get it and I respect it, even if it’s frustrating sometimes. That aside, I’m just excited about not only stepping out of my box and making myself do something like that; I also love smart people’s brains. I may know how to do something, but I want to hear how someone else does it. If it sounds like they might have a better way, I might try it, or form a hybrid solution of something that works better for me.

That’s also why I’m a journalist, despite the shyness and nervousness. I get to meet all kinds of people I’d never be comfortable with otherwise.

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