Walking up to the Saint John Ale House on May 25, the music from Jaws played in my head.
Only instead of it foreshadowing an attack from a stealthily evil shark, I was staring right at the shark’s gaping maw with its double row of teeth and walking straight at it.
Like Yvette Pistorio, I’m an introvert when it comes to networking. I’m just horrible at it. At any kind of small talk, really. Would rather stick rusty spoons in my eye sockets. There’s the awkwardness, and second-guessing yourself after you’ve spoken, and sometimes, like Jenny Lawson, I hear myself saying some truly inane and bizarre things.
But, as I pointed out in my comments on Yvette’s blog post “Five Ways Introverts Make Great Community Managers,” a tweetup sounded like an event tailor-made for the introvert who needs to meet people. As a recent transplant to Saint John, NB, that’s exactly what I need to do.
So into the shark’s maw I went.
The Saint John Tweetup was organized by Mark Burnett, and he did a kick-ass job of getting coverage in the local media. I’m not sure what his background is, but if he’s never worked in publicity then he’s a natural.
Seeing a call for volunteers, I was happy to help out – having something to keep yourself occupied with is another great way for us introverts to handle networking events.
I sat by the door, handing out nametags & door prize tickets for the first hour or so. Not only did it minimize my feelings of awkwardness, it gave me the chance to put names to faces as people came in.
A tweetup is, basically, an event that combines Twitter and in-person networking. You’ve got an excuse to look at your phone if you’re feeling awkward – in fact, it’s encouraged! – and you also get a chance to meet the folks you’ve been following online. For me, that meant meeting Mark, of course, and his lovely fiancée Ashley. She introduced me to Didi and Andrea. Then Julie popped by and, by example, schooled us in the art of networking. I think she met everyone in attendance, and I am in awe of her. Trent and I also had an aborted conversation about the merits and failings of The Big Bang Theory as he arrived.
Wayne Hansen, a talented local musician, provided entertainment for the evening, and after he was finished playing we had the chance to chat. Commiserating with him about life as graduate students and reminiscing about Tanzania and Zanzibar was a delightful end to the evening.
The Saint John Ale House is a cozy spot in Market Square and even the servers got into the tweetup groove – not only did they ask for nametags so they could show off their Twitter handles, but our server Bobby took requests via tweet.
For me, chatting with seven people I don’t know is a runaway success in terms of an evening out, and I’m delighted that I attended.
Saint Johners are friendly by nature – truly some of the friendliest I’ve ever met – and the combination of welcoming people and an excuse to look at your phone when you don’t know what to say was perfect for me.
Doorprizes from Alpine Lager, East Coast Bistro, Java Moose, The Feel Good Store, Piece O’ Cake, The New Artisan Studio, and Exchange on Germain were given out. I was delighted to win a pair of knee-high ninja socks from the Heartbreak Boutique – plus a $20 gift certificate! Can’t wait to check out the store.
I’m glad I attended.
Thanks, Mark, for organizing the event. And if you’re at the Saint John Ale House, try the kettle chips. YUM!