I was reading “An Introvert’s Guide to Networking” and the comments that followed, and something bothered me about the comments. A lot of the people that commented seem to equate “introvert” with “shy.” They are not the same thing (wikipedia even agrees with me).
As an introvert, I prefer solitary activities. I am not a particularly social person, although I do enjoy being around close friends (just not all the time). Even when it comes to my friends and family I need time alone to recharge. I like being alone, and I like thinking deeply without interruptions. A lot of these characteristics fit the definition of introvert, and yet I am not at all shy.
Depending on which site or dictionary* you look at, shy is defined as something along the lines of this:
1. Easily startled; timid. 2. a. Drawing back from contact or familiarity with others; retiring or reserved.
I do not fear or draw back from interaction with others. I am not easily startled, and I don’t think anyone that actually knows me would ever say I’m timid. Reserved at times, I suppose.
Anyway, it bothered me that people didn’t know the difference between “shy” and “introverted.” At a networking event, a shy person would be afraid to introduce themselves or talk to anyone. An introvert would simply prefer a more intimate event or a smaller group, but they may still easily introduce themselves or start a conversation. You might, of course, be both introverted and shy – in which case I wish you the best of luck, but I definitely do not envy you.
* Originally I didn’t even include “dictionary” here: sign of the times?