Part two of my survey asked about your favorite ways to meet new people. (Part one is Survey Says: Introverts Don't Mind Being Chatted Up, Sometimes.)
In general, the responses confirmed what we already know: Meeting new people is not particularly easy for introverts. Among the introverts who responded (and you could check more than one response), 44.8 percent checked "Beats me, I have trouble meeting people."
We prefer tried-and-true methods. "Introduction by friends and family" was the clear winner for both introverts and extraverts, with "At work or school" a close second. About 24 percent checked "Through volunteering": about 23 percent chose "Online"; and 13 percent chose "At parties."
A few introverts rejected the whole idea. "I'm really ok not meeting any more people," one wrote in. "I'm quite happy not to meet anyone," wrote another. My favorite response from among the nine extravert responses: "Always out annoying introverts, evidently, since I have never met a stranger..."
The take-home message I got from reading the responses is that introverts prefer meeting people in situations where they can take their time to warm up and where there's a natural subject for discussion (i.e. a club or class).
Not that this makes the job easy, necessarily. One friend of mine would love to meet new men, but finds that the activities she's drawn to—book clubs, cooking classes, lectures, for example—attract more women and couples than single men. (Hint, hint, introverted men.) And getting involved in an activity that doesn't particularly interest you just to meet the opposite sex defeats the purpose.
Introverts face challenges in the meeting-people arena. For one, speaking very generally, we tend not to be big risk takers. We're not likely to strike up conversations just for the hell of it because we're so averse to banal conversation. We turn down invitations we're not gung-ho about, which may cause us to limit our socializing to the same people. We take a while to decide about people and warm up to them, which means meeting someone interesting at a party may or may not go anywhere because our time with them is limited.
So we need to be aware of ways we might get in our own way. Sometimes you just have to stick your neck out either by reaching out to people, or by somehow making yourself appear approachable.
An example: I admired the work of a writer at my local newspaper. I dropped her a brief fan email, mentioned I used to work for the newspaper. She responded by inviting me and my husband to have dinner with her and husband, and the seeds of a new friendship were planted. It's not what I expected, but I know how much I appreciate notes of appreciation, so I knew that at the very least, I would make another writer feel good-and it paid off.
Now, some of the write-in responses:
My book, The Introvert's Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World, is available for pre-order on Amazon. It will be released December 4, just in time for party/festive/family-togetherness season. You know you need it.