To be a social butterfly

To be a social butterfly

To be a social butterfly

“If you are not networking, you are not working,” said one motivational speaker. The statement left me intrigued. Does that mean introverts cook up their own recipe for disaster?

Does lack of socialising skills guarantee a career or life that plummets faster than a mighty avalanche? Perhaps. Nothing to panic, though, as long as you don’t just turn a blind eye to the situation. Life throws us many opportunities to connect with people.

It’s not about seeking relationships with all and sundry. It’s about those fleeting moments wherein you connect with a complete stranger or make small talk with someone interesting at a boring party, with a simple “Hi! How are you? I am...”

Stretching a little from your comfort zone and breaking the ice is all it takes to graduate from being a social caterpillar to a social butterfly. Sure, it is a skill you master over a period of time. Overcoming the fear of rejection, probable embarrassment and dread of the cold shoulder is not easy.

But there are some who are adept at this. They are capable of reading people’s body language like a book! Like the common butterfly that uses its antennae to sense the air for wind and scents, the social butterfly, too, looks for cues. They know exactly when things thaw out for them to make their entry.

The social butterflies are socially dynamic, charismatic, gregarious and, of course, great at networking. The social butterfly gravitates to people and makes it seem all so effortless!

Much like a spider that painstakingly weaves its web, hoping for a big catch some day, the social butterfly’s networking does help if done the right way. The good news is that it requires no degree from Harvard or a certificate on communication skills.

Just about anyone can master this unique trait. Take our maids and nannies, for example. When they are on the playground, they not only keep an eye on the wandering child, but also on moms (aka prospective employers) who still believe in running their own show.

Acquaintances may feign ignorance, or avoid eye contact, but not them. “Hello, Madam. How are you? All well?” they ask in broken English. The next time the lady needs a maid or nanny, she’ll know whom to approach.

“We learn that man is a social animal at a very young age, but understand its importance much later in life. Socialising and staying connected with people is part of human nature, an important aspect that ensures mental and emotional wellbeing,” says Krithika Raj.

For Agneta Ladek, networking is very important in both her personal and professional life. “It usually simplifies things, helps you to be heard, to get information, to get advice,” she says. “Even keeping in touch with former colleagues and bosses helps. They will remember you if there is a suitable opening and suggest your name,” she reckons.

It seems like social worth is just as important - if not more - as your professional and monetary worth. Not just in your professional life, but also in your personal circles. It is an era where networking is the norm.

“I have learnt by sheer observation,” says Revati Rao. “For me parties are more like an ego trip. I can converse with complete strangers. All I have to do is wear good clothes, introduce myself and shower a few compliments, and the rest is easy or should I say history!” she guffaws.

Dolling up to the nines is essential, as first impressions count. “Once you’ve made a good impression, half the battle is won. Next comes breaking the ice. Equipped with my ammunitions of sweet talk and friendly banter, I approach people who make an eye contact first,” offers Rupa Upadhya. Each individual has something unique, and the social butterfly knows to acknowledge that USP in order to make the other person feel comfortable, and, in the process, earn some brownie points.

Don’t we love it when someone (preferably the right person like, say, our boss) pays attention to us?

Staying genuine is the key, warns Sana Rushdie, who has earned the coveted crown of a social butterfly from her friends.

“If I am not aware of something, I dare not bluff. Faking anything will take everything downhill and there’s no climbing back,” she says. Accepting and giving compliments is, also, an art that we, Indians, need to work on. When someone says something good about us, we get into a defensive mode, trying to explain the reasons behind it, while all we need to do is utter a simple ‘Thank you’. A little modesty is good, but we don’t have to go overboard.

“I remember a German lady praising my teeth, much to my surprise! No Indian had ever done that,” says a stunned Ranjita Pai. 

Social networking sites may have changed the way we network, but there are people like Divya Sashihital, who prefer ‘real’ networking to the virtual one. “It is defintely better to actually meet people rather than just connecting online,” she says.

The rationale being that professional sites do let us upload resumes, build portfolios, and make virtual connections among professional circles, however, it’s the physical presence that, often, gives a better idea whether something clicks or not. Online sites can act as a good reference point.

Being a social butterfly is not everybody’s cup of tea. It takes a certain conviction, attitude, demeanour to play the part. “I don’t really like attending certain kinds of get-togethers,” says Jasmine Kothari.

“These gatherings only have mutual ego-pumping sessions and I detest taking part in their gossips. Also, the pomp and show bandwagon puts me off,” she says. For non-conformist Sohini Bagchi, who considers networking a very powerful tool, the occasion and people have to be of her interest.

“If I am not comfortable somewhere, I would rather not go there,” she says. Krithika Raj prefers to stay at home and watch TV rather than dress up for a party and make small talk with strangers. “I can’t pretend to be all goody-goody and say all the right things. I find it quite stressful,” she maintains.

However, having lost a few opportunities scaling the corporate ladder, Bharath Rao is now a reluctant caterpillar. “I am not comfortable starting conversations with people I don’t know. But if it’s need-based, I am willing to make an effort,” he says. 

“Being an introvert is not a disease,” he maintains.  To be or not to be a social butterfly is for you to decide. If meeting people brightens you up, then it is prudent to hone your fluttering skills. If it’s something you aspire for, there’s every reason to make efforts to acquire the requisite skills.

Practice works. And just in case, you don’t fancy being a butterfly, take heart. Your contact list may not be very long, but, perhaps, the ones on it will rush to your aid in time of need.