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Are you an introvert navigating the challenges of meeting new people in a bustling city? Join us in this episode of The Quiet And Strong Podcast as we explore The Introvert Social Club with guest Tom Norman and host David Hall. Discover how Tom’s vision is creating spaces where introverts can connect authentically and build genuine networks.

In this episode, you will learn valuable insights on managing energy as an introvert, creating inclusive social environments, and the strengths that introverts bring to community building. Tom Norman shares his journey, tips for navigating non-introvert friendly situations, and the importance of personal space for maintaining healthy relationships.

Tune in to uncover strategies for organizing introvert-friendly events, the power of empathy in community engagement, and how introverts can find their tribe in a new city. Join us on this quiet and authentic journey towards connection and belonging, and be strong.

Tom Norman is the founder of Introvert’s Social Club, a project offering a refreshing alternative to the typical loud networking events and small talk you have to endure to meet new people in your city. Tom is a community manager by trade with a passion and curiosity for humans. Originally from the UK but now fortunate enough to call Valencia, Spain his home. Tom’s Website: Introverts-Social.club

The Introvert Social Club: A Conversation with Tom Norman

As the host of The Quiet And Strong Podcast, I had the privilege of sitting down with Tom Norman, the founder of the Introvert Social Club. Our conversation delved into the challenges introverts face in social settings, the importance of creating inclusive spaces, and the unique strengths that introverts bring to the table. Join me as I share insights from my discussion with Tom in this blog article.

Discovering the Challenges of Being an Introvert

Tom Norman opened up about his experiences as an introvert, particularly the difficulties he faced when moving to new cities and trying to connect with others. His struggle resonated with me, as I too have encountered situations where networking events felt overwhelming and draining.

Creating Spaces for Introverts to Connect

Tom’s solution to this challenge was inspiring. By founding the Introvert Social Club, he aimed to provide introverts with a welcoming environment where they could meet like-minded individuals. I was impressed by his commitment to bridging the gap between online and in-person interactions, ensuring that introverts could form genuine connections.

The Power of Empathy in Community Building

One of the key takeaways from my conversation with Tom was the importance of empathy in organizing events and understanding the needs of introverts. His insight into using empathy as a strength resonated with me, highlighting how introverts can leverage their unique qualities to create meaningful experiences for others.

Navigating Social Situations as an Introvert

Tom shared valuable advice on managing energy levels and setting boundaries to navigate non-introvert friendly situations. His emphasis on creating personal space and embracing common interest activities in smaller groups offered practical tips for introverts looking to engage with others on their own terms.

Fostering Connection and Belonging

Listening to Tom speak about the positive impact of the Introvert Social Club on its attendees was truly heartwarming. The sense of community and support that he has cultivated through his events underscored the importance of providing opportunities for introverts to connect and feel a sense of belonging.

Challenging Introvert Stereotypes

Tom and I also addressed common myths surrounding introverts, debunking notions that they cannot organize events or have nothing valuable to contribute. By highlighting the rich inner world of introverts and their preference for thoughtful communication, we aimed to showcase the diverse strengths that introverts bring to any social setting.

Embracing Introversion as a Gift

In wrapping up our conversation, Tom emphasized the gift of introversion and the power it holds in cultivating deep connections and meaningful interactions. His journey from a shy child to the founder of a thriving social club exemplified the transformative potential of embracing one’s introverted nature.

Join the Quiet Revolution

I invite you to join us in celebrating the strengths of introverts and creating inclusive spaces where everyone feels valued and heard. Whether you’re an introvert seeking connection or an extrovert looking to better understand and support the introverts in your life, let’s come together in the quiet and strong spirit of community and empathy.
Thank you for joining me on this reflective journey through my conversation with Tom Norman. Until next time on The Quiet And Strong Podcast, remember to honor the unique strengths and qualities that make each of us shine in our own quiet way.

Key Takeaways

  • Creating inclusive spaces for introverts to connect is essential for building genuine networks and relationships.
  • Providing opportunities for deep conversations in quiet environments can be more beneficial for introverts than traditional networking events.
  • Understanding and embracing introverted strengths like empathy can lead to successful event organization and community building.
  • It’s important for introverts to prioritize self-care, mental and physical space, and communication in relationships to manage their energy effectively.
  • Offering structured events with clear expectations, quiet settings, and smaller group interactions can help introverts feel more comfortable and engaged.

Make Changes Now

Here are a few things you can do after listening to Episode 174 of the Quiet and Strong podcast to make changes now.

  1. Reflect on your own social preferences and needs as an introvert. Consider how you can create mental and physical space before and after social events to navigate them more comfortably.
  2. Explore opportunities to join or create inclusive spaces for introverts in your community. Look for clubs or events that prioritize deeper connections and quieter environments.
  3. Prioritize personal time for activities that recharge you as an introvert. Communicate openly with your loved ones about your need for space to maintain healthy relationships.
  4. Practice empathy in your interactions with others, drawing on the strengths associated with introversion to create meaningful connections and understanding.
  5. Consider using conversation starters like the one mentioned by Tom Norman to facilitate deeper conversations and connections in your social interactions as an introvert and apps like MeetUp to find people with similar interests, or start your own group.

Contact the Host of the Quiet and Strong Podcast

Contact the Host of the Quiet and Strong Podcast:

David Hall

Author, Speaker, Educator, Podcaster

quietandstrong.com
Gobio.link/quietandstrong
david [at] quietandstrong.com

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Timestamped Overview

00:00 Author wrote book, moved to Slovenia and Spain, faced challenges as introvert, built life from scratch twice.
04:55 The speaker shares their experience of being shy and quiet.
09:37 Introverts have rich inner worlds and struggle to be heard when others are very talkative.
11:26 Struggling with expressing thoughts and ideas verbally.
13:54 Weekly event with 15 people, quiet environment, conversation starters, pairs.
17:19 Planning and location important for introvert-friendly events.
21:53 Quiet physical location critical for events. Layout and organization important for social comfort.
25:57 A platform for connection through deep member profiles.
28:23 Introverts in a new city can join events to build a genuine network and boost confidence.
30:43 Find space for decompression, seek out like-minded individuals at networking events, and avoid overwhelming situations.
35:59 Creating spaces for connection is important for introverts and people in general. Organizers should consider this in events to help people feel like they belong.
37:49 Embrace introvert strengths, understand their needs.

Podcast Transcript

Tom Norman [00:00:00]:
There’s conversation starters, if you need them. There are I’ve created, like, this app, which kind of has conversation starters and things, and it’s a quiet environment. I deliberately find a quiet place to do this. And, yeah, that’s that’s it, basically. It’s very simple. You know, nothing crazy, but it’s a very simple event. Let me change partners 2 or 3 times throughout the night. And by the end, you’ve spoken to, like, yeah, 2 or 3 new people in a quiet environment, you know, encouraged to speak more deeply about things, not just the small talk.

Tom Norman [00:00:28]:
And if people come away feeling really, really, good.

David Hall [00:00:42]:
Hello, and welcome to episode 174, the Quiet and Strong podcast, especially for introverts. I’m your host, David Hall and the creator of quietandstrong.com. This is a weekly podcast dedicated to understanding the strengths and needs of introverts. Introversion is not something to fix, but to be embraced. Normally, we’ll learn each episode on a Monday. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform. Leave a review or a rating. That would mean a lot to me and help more people find the show.

David Hall [00:01:09]:
Tell a friend about the podcast and help get the word out there that introversion is a beautiful thing. Tom Norman is the founder of Introvert Social Club, a project offering a refreshing alternative to the typical loud networking events of and small talk. The typical loud networking events and small talk you have to endure to meet new people in your city. Tom is a community manager by trade with a passion and curiosity for humans. Originally from the UK, but now fortunate enough to call Valencia, Spain his home. Alright. Well, welcome to the Quiet and Strong podcast, Tom. Tom, it’s so great to have you on today.

Tom Norman [00:01:48]:
Thank you so much for having me. It’s good to be here.

David Hall [00:01:51]:
Alright, Tom. We’re gonna get into the work that you’re doing with the introvert social club. But first, let’s talk about your journey, you know, as an introvert to now doing the work that you’re doing.

Tom Norman [00:02:02]:
Sure. I mean, I was always a very shy child. Like, you know, I was typically on the outside of social situations looking in, and that was definitely a place I was a lot more comfortable with. And I think it was my teenage years really that I started to kinda, like, become less shy. I was still introverted for sure, but I was less shy, let’s say. And I kinda learned, you know, actually, it was people pleasing. I I learned how to please people, and that kinda made me more popular, let’s say. And, you know, that that kind of processed kinda led me through to my twenties and stuff, and I had different various projects.

Tom Norman [00:02:35]:
Some of which, you know, I wrote a book when I was, I think, 21, 22, a book about travel, and that ended up with me living in Slovenia, which is, yeah, tiny little country between Italy, Austria, that kind of part of the world. And, yeah, basically, I ended up moving to a brand new city and, building my life from scratch in a brand new city. And so I got to witness firsthand, you know, what it’s like thinking somewhere brand new and trying to build your life from scratch. And, you know, particularly as an introvert, it was difficult. So I did it once in Ljubljana, and then a few years later, this was 3 years ago now, I moved to Spain, and I did a very similar thing in Spain. I moved here with my girlfriend, and, yeah, basically, we had to build our life from scratch yet again. So it wasn’t just the once I’ve done it, but twice I’ve kinda done this, putting my life from scratch and realizing, you know what? There’s lots of networking events and things. There’s lots of language exchanges.

Tom Norman [00:03:23]:
There’s lots of stuff going on, but I found a lot of it very difficult as an introvert. You know? They’re typically very loud. They’re typically, you know, a lot a lot of networking, a lot of small talk, all of the stuff I really suck at. And so, yeah, basically, I don’t think we’ll probably come until later, but, I decided to create a club called Introvert Social Club, which was basically an experiment. I wanted to see are there other people out there like me who want to meet and connect and chat in a lot less overwhelming ways, and apparently it resonated because now there are over I think it’s 1200 people in the meetup group. There’s a WhatsApp group alongside that community which I’ve just launched as well. So it turns out it resonates with a lot of people, and that’s kind of yeah. For me as well, you know, I’ve had a lot of experience building communities.

Tom Norman [00:04:08]:
So one of the things I did in Slovenia was the same thing. And for me, I think this comes back to my childhood too. Like I said, on as a child or as a teenager, I was very shy and was on the outside looking in. And I learned just how powerful it can be to feel like you’re in on the in in crowd, if if that makes sense, rather than being on the outside. So I think that’s another one of the experiences that I had growing up, which made me realize and cherish just how important it is to build these, let’s say, safe spaces. That word’s kind of overused, but, like, the safe space of the safe environments for people to connect, in more comfortable ways as well.

David Hall [00:04:44]:
Yeah. Yeah. We’re definitely gonna talk a lot about that. So how did you how did you learn the term introvert and and then embrace it?

Tom Norman [00:04:55]:
Honestly, that’s a very good question. I have no idea when I you know, there was not a moment I was, oh, maybe that’s me. It’s just something I think I kinda grew up, knowing I was quiet, like I knowing I was shy before. In fact, so shy that, I remember one of my best friends was leaving my school to go to another school, and the teacher, she had to come up to me and have a little, you know, a little word with me and say, hey, Tom. You do realize Matthew’s going to a different school. Are you gonna be okay? So you know, I was incredibly shy, and I think it must have been in my teenage years, I guess. Like, I’ve I learned that there’s such a thing as an introvert, but it’s really I’d say it’s really my twenties. You know, I think I think school and everything gives you a structure, and you just fit into the structure.

Tom Norman [00:05:36]:
So I think it’s really my twenties that I started to learn, oh, wait. I am this type of person. I’m quieter. And as a result, it impacts me in these certain ways in the workplace. So for example, you know, I’d look at other people, you know, in the workplace or even in for example, I think we spoke about this, before, David. I was in a bus once. In fact, several times I’d be on a bus with people, and I’d noticed, like, people could just have these deep conversations for the entire bus journey, like, backwards and forwards. And I almost looked with a certain jealousy.

Tom Norman [00:06:04]:
I was like, how on earth can you keep this consistent conversation going for, like, an hour and a half, 2 hour bus journey? So there’s little hints that I’m not wired like that. I don’t want these kind of ongoing conversations with the buzz jams and stuff. So, yeah, I think about 20s really that I realized, I’m, you know, not like everybody else. I’m more introverted.

David Hall [00:06:23]:
Okay. And, of course, on this show, we talk about strengths and needs of introverts. What’s a strength that you have because you’re an introvert?

Tom Norman [00:06:32]:
I would say mine ties in really nicely with, the work I do with community and things. And I’d say that my strength would be kind of the empathy that comes with it. I don’t know if it’s anonymous for all introverts, but at least myself and several people I’ve met who are introverts. There’s often, like, a real kind of deep empathy there as well, a lot of, being able to feel a lot. And I think it definitely helps me. Just the other day, somebody was saying to me, oh, it’s funny you organize events and community and stuff. Like, you know, as as an introvert, it’s strange for you to be doing that kind of stuff. I was like, you you make a good point.

Tom Norman [00:07:02]:
You know, like, just you don’t necessarily naturally think of an introvert being like that. But for me, yeah, it takes my strength, which is disability to feel really deeply. And that I can kinda, like, learn very quickly what people need and how they should kind of gather, what they want from a situation. And that’s really helped me a lot, to kind of develop these events, of which I’ve hosted, I think, over 100 or more over the past, like, 5 or 6 years.

David Hall [00:07:29]:
Yeah. That’s probably I was gonna ask you about a myth next. That might be one. It’s like, oh, an introvert can’t organize events. Right?

Tom Norman [00:07:38]:
Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. No. It’s it’s honestly, it’s it’s something which it does sound absurd sometimes when you think of, like, the stereotypical introvert trying to kinda bring people together. But, honestly, I found for me, not only has it been good to, you know, using my strength, which is my empathy, but the other thing which I recommend anybody out there who’s curious about this kind of thing, I really recommend if you’ve got an idea for an event and it doesn’t exist in your city or whatever, give it a go. Be the organizer because that alone, especially as an introvert, gives you a certain certain role to play, I guess. Like, there’s certain, yeah, there’s certain role to play, and that kind of helps increase my confidence.

Tom Norman [00:08:16]:
You know, when I’m somewhere as an organizer and when I’m somewhere as an attendee, I’m way more confident, as an organizer. So, you know, as an introvert, it might sound strange to be doing events, but it really, it kinda uses my strengths, and it kinda makes me become more confident as a person as a result.

David Hall [00:08:33]:
Yeah. And I am not always planning events like you are, but I do a yearly event through my work, and I’m I’m the chair of the event. I love it. You know? And

Tom Norman [00:08:46]:
Mhmm.

David Hall [00:08:47]:
I’m using my introverted strengths to, you know, plan and organize. I’m very analytical and strategic, and I’m using my thinking skills to make a great event and, you know, trying to keep introverts in mind too.

Tom Norman [00:09:01]:
Yeah.

David Hall [00:09:03]:
And, you know, that’s the thing too. It’s we’re not all the same, So there’s definitely gonna be some introverts that are more empathic like yourself and some more that are more analytical, and neither is good or bad, but the differ the the sameness there is that we’re all, turned inward more and your empathy is turned inward. You know, where extroverts empathy, you know, they’re more, you know, they’re focused more outward. And so you just gotta get to know all your strengths. Is there another myth myth about introversion that you wanna bust?

Tom Norman [00:09:37]:
The other the only other thing which comes to mind, and, you know, maybe it’s not a common myth, but people often think that introverts don’t have anything to say. And I think that can be further from the truth. Like, often, you know, I’ve got an incredibly rich inner world, and, like, there’s so many things going in my mind that, you know, if I’m being quiet in a situation, maybe it’s more talking about the situation. You know? Like, maybe the other voices are too loud. I don’t feel like I’ve got a place to say. And one of the things I really dislike is fighting to be heard. So, you know, if people are, you know, either crazy extroverted or crazy charismatic and there’s no pauses in between stuff, you know, I just back out. And it’s not because I don’t have anything to say in quite in fact, quite often I I really do.

Tom Norman [00:10:22]:
So I think that’s a that’s a myth that often we do have a lot to say and actually we’re just looking for those those perfect moments, those perfect opportunities, those perfect collaborations, I guess, like, connections with the right people, with the right crowds. And, yeah, I think and again, I don’t wanna keep coming back to it, but I think that’s one of the reasons why I love doing these events so much because it is building these spaces where people can feel like they can be themselves. They can feel like they can have bare things to say with each other. But, yeah, these safe spaces, to to be heard, I guess.

David Hall [00:10:55]:
Yeah. Yeah. I love that. It’s and as you said, you have a rich imagination. So you’re always thinking. So, of course, you have a lot to say. You know? We we’re always thinking. I know for me, it’s nonstop.

David Hall [00:11:08]:
And so, yeah, we have a lot to say. But, you know, a lot of times we are putting our thoughts together carefully, and we’re, you know, we’re not thinking out loud like an extrovert would. We’re, you know, we’re thinking and then speaking. And so we’re not gonna use as many words, but there’s a lot going on in our minds.

Tom Norman [00:11:26]:
Absolutely. And, yeah, you’re right as well. What you just said about, you know, trying to figure out the right words to say it, I think that’s a very interesting perspective too. Because, you know, in my mind, often, things are a lot more fluid, a lot more it makes a lot more sense in my mind. And as soon as I started to come put it out into the wild, let’s say, that’s when I sometimes I struggle. Like, you know, like it’s like when it hits the air, it kind of slows down and changes form and everything. And, yeah, I think that’s I think I don’t know if it’s an introvert thing or if it’s a meeting, but that alone, like, in my mind, it’s so much easier to kind of come up with these thoughts and ideas. As soon as I start to express them, they don’t quite come out how I want them to come out.

Tom Norman [00:12:01]:
And as a result, yeah, that’s, that’s something I have to do with every day.

David Hall [00:12:06]:
Yeah. Yeah. We we, we definitely are are are forming our thoughts more perfectly, and it it can be a struggle. And it’s often why we need to prepare for things because, you know Exactly. And we can’t prepare for everything, but we need to, you know, give our give our thoughts before the meeting or before the event, you know, you know, think about the things that we wanna share and say.

Tom Norman [00:12:32]:
Exactly.

David Hall [00:12:34]:
Okay. So tell us about the introvert social club and what led you to form that.

Tom Norman [00:12:41]:
Yeah. I mean, the the formation was a little bit like I mentioned where I was here in Spain. It was my 1st 6 months, and I wasn’t inspired by any of the other events I’ve been to. You know? I I tried these language exchanges, which are, you know, how they sound, kind of learn Spanish, let’s say, and talk in different languages. I have been to, like, these networking events, and, honestly, I’d always come away feeling incredibly drained, and quite often quite often likes a bit self loathing too. Like, oh, I’m so quiet. I’m so why can’t I feel like it could fit in in these places? And, you know, like, it led me to try to create something. And, you know, this wasn’t new.

Tom Norman [00:13:18]:
I’ve created events in the past in different places. I worked in a place in Slovenia where I was creating events for them. So creating events wasn’t new for me, but creating this introvert event, the idea just came from, I need this, and I wanna see if anybody else needs this too. And like I said, it resonated. I think the first few were maybe just 6 or 8 people coming, and then very quickly, the wait list was overflowing. And we’re talking, you know, at one point, I think the busiest ever wait list, because, you know, I keep the event deliberately small. It’s maximum 15 people because, you know, beyond that, I start to feel overwhelmed, like, learning people kinda coming for the first time and stuff. So there’s always a wait list, and I think the biggest of the wait list was, like, 60 people wanting to come to the event.

Tom Norman [00:13:54]:
That means 15 were on the event, 60 wanted to come. So it really kind of snowballed a little bit. And, yeah, that today, it’s it’s an event which I host every week, and it’s essentially yeah. Like I said, a group of 15 of us, we come together. I break everyone into pairs or small groups, usually 2 or 3 people per group. And we have about 25 minutes with each pair, and it’s basically just a place where can ditch small talk if you want. There’s conversation starters, if you need them, that are I’ve created, like, this app, which kind of has some conversation starters and things, and it’s a quiet environment. I deliberately find a quiet place to do this.

Tom Norman [00:14:31]:
And, yeah, that’s that’s it, basically. It’s very simple. You know, nothing crazy, but it’s a very simple event. Let me change partners 2 or 3 times throughout the night. And by the end, you’ve spoken to, like, yeah, 2 or 3 new people in a quiet environment, you know, encouraged to speak more deeply about things, not just the small talk. And get people come away feeling really, really, good about themselves. So I’m from my side. You know? And so since then, I’ve also been expanding into a few other events recently, yeah, recently.

Tom Norman [00:14:59]:
But that’s kind of the core flagship event, if you like, and and how it performed.

David Hall [00:15:04]:
You said a couple things there. You said right now, you said people go away feeling good about themselves. And earlier, you said, you know, there was events that you attended that there was self loathing, and I hadn’t really thought about that, but I’ve experienced that too. It’s like, oh, what’s wrong with me? Like, why can’t I just easily interact in this situation? So what you’re doing, people should walk away from that event, you know, having had a rich experience. Right?

Tom Norman [00:15:32]:
Yeah. I mean, last just last week, something was really warmed my heart. It’s not like any person. You know? I have my doubts. Sometimes, like, what what am I doing? Is it any good? And just last week, at an event, some guy confessed to me. You know, he’s a 55 year old guy. He’s, he’s single. He’s in Valencia for quite a few years, but, you know, he’s still trying to find his crowd, and he’s also introverted, obviously.

Tom Norman [00:15:55]:
And he said to me, look, Tom, before these events, I didn’t go out very much to connect with people. I was feeling quite alone. And he said, I I thank you so much for what you’ve done because you’ve built me this this way to meet people in a format which works for me. And it really struck me hard. Like, I was like, you know, like I said, I doubt some myself sometimes. And to hear that from somebody, oh, you know, you’re doing a great job. Thank you so much. He’s a regular.

Tom Norman [00:16:17]:
He comes, you know, every every couple of weeks at least. To hear that was really, really, heartwarming to know that it’s having a positive impact on people.

David Hall [00:16:25]:
Yeah. How do they find you?

Tom Norman [00:16:29]:
You know what? At the moment, it’s been mostly through. You know, depending on the strategic meetup can be either, you know, popular or, you know, dead. But Valencia, is working pretty well, and there’s a lot of people in meetup. So it’s the meetup up until now. I am trying to take into a bit of marketing myself, you know, doing some guest posts here and there for, like, local places, also some, like, in person things too. Like, I’m gonna drop some flyers and stickers around, so I’m gonna do a bit of in person, a bit of online. But, yeah, my meetup’s been probably 90% 85% of people so far has discovered the event through meetup.

David Hall [00:17:04]:
And how can we make events in general more introvert friendly? You know? Whether it be the introvert social club or or some other event. How can we keep introverts in mind?

Tom Norman [00:17:19]:
Sure. I mean, one thing you mentioned earlier, I think is really important, and that was, you know, we like to plan a little bit if you like. So it’s very important that you let people know what to expect for an event. It doesn’t mean everything has to become spoiled in advance, but, you know, people should know, like, what kind of setting is it, what kind of interactions are they expected to have. So, you know, there should be a little bit of, yeah, for planning, let’s say, of what’s gonna come. And then the location itself and the way it’s organized also is really important to be introvert friendly. So, for example, like I said, the events that I host, I try as best as possible to find locations which are quiet, because there’s nothing worse than trying to shout at each other, barely able to hear each other, and I I get completely drained in this situation. And, also, I’m not sure if there’s an introvert trait or not, but I often get quite distracted if there’s lots of voices too.

Tom Norman [00:18:07]:
Like, I can’t I can’t focus so much on the just the one person in front of me. If there’s lots of voices, Maybe it’s a highly sensitive thing I’m not sure about. You know, I get very distracted easily. So it’s building situations in places where, yeah, it’s quiet. And also think about the the actual interactions people have themselves. You know? Like, it is very difficult without moderation to participate in a big group as an introvert. In certain moderation settings, for example, one event I host is about 10, 12 people at a time, but I’m the moderate moderate to that. And I do try to, as best as possible, you know, use my empathy, use my everything to kind of give everyone a chance to speak.

Tom Norman [00:18:44]:
But in general, the bigger the group, the more difficult it is for introverts. So kind of sculpting these smaller groups or at least these activities which allow you to kind of participate, you know, in smaller groups. That’s the real key here. It’s kind of making it so that introverts can participate without being kind of overwhelmed with the situation.

David Hall [00:19:03]:
Yeah. The very first thing you said there, telling people what to expect, that can really take the anxiety out of the situation. You know? Because sometimes I think introverts are more prone to overthinking. You know, I may be wrong, but we spend a lot of time in our heads. And, you know, I think that just knowing what to expect can really and how to prepare can really make a difference in, in feeling comfortable.

Tom Norman [00:19:30]:
Definitely. I mean, it’s just I use a silly example. Like, sometimes, I have a particular friend who often invites me out with some of his friends, and I always kinda try to ask, like, you know, how many people are there and, you know, what what’s the plan? Because I also don’t like that anticipation of the, you know, being a huge crowd in a busy place. So even for, like, personal life and social events, I wanna know what’s coming and who’s gonna be there before I say, yes. I’m coming or no. And it’s it’s the sum of events. You know? Like, it is intimidating. And, you know, this introversion itself is a shyer scale like I used to be.

Tom Norman [00:20:03]:
I used to be incredibly shy, like I said. If you’re closer to that, it takes even more effort and probably even more overthinking just to get yourself at the event. So you’re really trying to make people feel as safe as possible before they even enter the door, is really key. And, you know, there’s a few other little tips, let’s say. You know, giving people the opportunity to arrive a little bit earlier, if possible. You know, quite often we like to scope the place out first. Even kind of, you know, go off and scope the organizer out even, like, before it gets busy and loud, before it becomes intimidating, sometimes getting in there early and kinda scoping out, so giving people the opportunity to do that. And even I can’t if I wrote this somewhere if it’s something I came up with, but, even, you know, like, these end of event kind of feedback and surveys, like, we don’t necessarily like to do it straight away.

Tom Norman [00:20:47]:
If you say if if if, if I said to you, oh, how’s the event? Give me some feedback. An introvert won’t necessarily like to do that straight away. So it’s kinda knowing when to send surveys out so they’ve had enough time to digest what happened, to kind of come up with their own responses. So always little kinda, like, little bits and pieces you can do to kind of make your events in general more introvert friendly.

David Hall [00:21:07]:
Yeah. Yeah. We, we tend to think about things, so we might not give feedback right on the spot. We might just need some time to process it and

Tom Norman [00:21:16]:
Exactly.

David Hall [00:21:17]:
And process our thoughts. So you also talked about that it can be hard to get to know somebody in a loud space. I know I was at an event recently, and I like to make new connections, you know, or or deepen you know, talk with somebody I I I have met before, but deep in that, relationship or connection. But, man, if it’s loud, it it’s it’s so tough. It’s so tough for me, especially as an introvert to to be able to connect with that person. So how do you deal with that? How do you make a quieter environment, for your events?

Tom Norman [00:21:53]:
Yeah. I mean, part of it really is just, like, the physical location has to be quiet. Like, you know, I did one event last week, a brand new event, and it wasn’t particularly quiet. And I remember halfway through thinking, oh, crap. This This is not the right place to kinda do the event, and I’ve changed the location for next time. So actual physical, environment is key. But even the layout of how you organize, events is important. You know? Like, for example, fitting into our social club, quite often, as much as I can, I’ll try to distribute the tables around a little bit so that you don’t have your neighbor right next to you, and you’ve got, like, you know, a zone where it’s just you and your partner, let’s say, or you and your small group, and you’re away from everyone else.

Tom Norman [00:22:30]:
So it can be a lot more, you know, a lot less background noise, a lot less kind of other conversations to zone out, let’s say. And you’re just quieter places in general, is what I kinda aim for.

David Hall [00:22:43]:
So, typically, what is the small group look like? How many people is that?

Tom Norman [00:22:49]:
Usually, 2 or 3. And like I said, they can, and people start to use the conversation starters a bit more, which, you know, that also helps sometimes. Like, especially, you know, particularly if I’m feeling drained, I don’t don’t wanna kinda come up with a conversation. So having this kind of activity there with these conversation starters, all kind of thoughtful questions, that kind of gives you, what you call that, like, a a place to leap from, basically. So you’ve got, like, these, these conversations can start for you. You just answer these questions, and they’re kinda thoughtful questions too. So it really does as, you know, as an introvert, I don’t like small talk. So you get to skip all the small talk nasty stuff and jump straight and select the the deeper stuff, which I and this isn’t this is a thing.

Tom Norman [00:23:30]:
I’m not sure if this is, like, for you, David, as well, but I don’t truly feel like I’ve connected with somebody unless we’ve gone a little bit deep. Like, if I’ve, you know, spoken to somebody, it’s only been very, very small talk. There’s nothing wrong with small talk. It has its place, but I don’t feel like I’ve truly connected with you unless I’ve, you know, I guess, spoken deeply. It doesn’t have to be, like, super vulnerable. It doesn’t have to be super philosophical, but something real. And it’s very difficult to define what that is, but, yeah, I I’ve definitely felt it before where unless I’ve had this depth of our conversation, I don’t feel like connected.

David Hall [00:24:02]:
Yeah. For sure. And I mean, I’ve definitely gotten better at small talk. It’s still not my goal to stay there. You know, it’s it’s it can be needed to get to the deeper conversations we wanna have. So how does it work? Someone comes to the event and there’s conversation starters on the table, or how does that all work?

Tom Norman [00:24:24]:
Yeah. Like, people show up. Typically, it’s staggered. You know? People will people will arrive at Yeah.

David Hall [00:24:30]:
Of course.

Tom Norman [00:24:31]:
But let’s say, more or less, I get people in pairs as soon as possible. So, sometimes I do an introduction, you know, give the, people the idea of the the project in general. And, yeah, the mission as well. Like, trying to give people the perspective of why they’re here. And then, yeah, we get put into pairs fairly quickly. Usually pairs. Usually, I only do threes if, if there’s, like, an odd number or something. And, yeah, basically, that’s it.

Tom Norman [00:24:55]:
Like, kind of people are free of rein to discuss whatever they want. But like I said, generally speaking, people tend to go towards, the deeper stuff more quickly, and they’ve got permission to. And then, yeah, every 25 minutes or so, we change partners, and it’s about free time throughout the night that we do that. And then the one thing I’ve introduced, with time was a bit of time at the end just to mingle. Okay? You know, before it was kind of a quick finish. Okay. Thanks guys for coming. But having this, like, 30 minutes at the end like, if you’re if you’re too tired, you’ve got permission to leave already if you want.

Tom Norman [00:25:25]:
You know, if you’re socially drained, you can leave. There’s no problem. But if you wanna keep mingling, if there’s somebody you really connected with them, wanna exchange more details with them, if there’s somebody who looked interesting, who wanted to connect with they’ve got a bit of, like, free time there to kinda, like, connect if they want. And then really really wrap up the event probably after, I think, it’s 2 hours in general. The the event’s fully wrapped up, and people can, you know, go to separate ways. And the other thing, like I said, I’ve introduced a new online community recently. And really the purpose of this was twofold. Like, on the one hand, providing a way for people to connect, you know, after the events.

Tom Norman [00:25:57]:
You know? Maybe you didn’t remember to exchange WhatsApp or maybe there’s somebody who wants to speak to you but didn’t. This gives you a place where you can find them and connect after the event. And the other side of it is, like, I’m trying to build up these really these member profiles where it’s kind of a really deep profile too. Like, you know, I like deep. I talk about deep a lot. But, like, you know, rather than just, you know, age, name, whatever, it’s, like, like, a lot of questions which really allow you to express, I guess, not just things about you, but your values too, your philosophies, your interests, and the things like that. And my hope is that this also becomes, you know, a place to find people who you connect with in Valencia, and, you know, eventually beyond Valencia too. But the goal yeah.

Tom Norman [00:26:41]:
I I haven’t quite mentioned it in this format already, but the goal really is I know how difficult it is as an introvert to come to New City and to find your crowd. And the way I think about it is, you know, let’s say the magic number is 30 people. Let’s say anyone who comes to New City has to meet 30 people before you find your person, your people. Okay? As an extrovert, maybe you can do that in a month. You could go every night. Let’s say in a month, you’ve met, you know, 30 people when your 30th person was, okay. Wow. We’ve connected.

Tom Norman [00:27:08]:
Perfect. As an introvert, as you know yourself, there’s no way I’m not going out every single night of a month. So if I’m going out once or twice a month, that could take me, you know, a year or more potentially to kind of meet my my person, let’s say. Not only that, there’s, like, less places for me to meet people because a lot of them are extrovert friendly, loud, or whatever. And so, really, the goal of this entire project is to to hopefully reduce that number as much as possible. Rather than 30 people, building spaces where you can go and meet people more quickly, whether it’s online or in person so that you can find your crowd as an introvert and a new city, as quickly as possible, basically.

David Hall [00:27:44]:
But do the in person and online go together, or are they separate?

Tom Norman [00:27:48]:
Yeah. They they’re still they go together. Like, the idea is the people you’re connecting with, you know, the profiles you see online are the people also in your city. So they they go together hand in hand.

David Hall [00:27:58]:
Okay. So it’s the same people attending the in person event that’s also online?

Tom Norman [00:28:03]:
Exactly. And so, you know, I’m I’m doing it. It’s not easily scalable if you just wanna build a bot side by side, but the plan is to kind of, like, one place at a time, both the offline and online kind of, together as well. And, yeah, that’s that’s that’s the goal eventually.

David Hall [00:28:20]:
So you’re looking to expand to other places?

Tom Norman [00:28:23]:
Absolutely. You know, like, if people listening in, you know, as introverts listening in, if you’ve moved to a new city recently, and you are also struggling to meet people or fed up of the loud network events in your city, check out our website reach to me reach out to me directly or something, because, you know, we are looking to expand to different places. And it it is like I said earlier, as an introvert person who’s in organizing events, it’s also quite a great role to play. It really does, like I said, boost your confidence, and also it just helps you get more connected too. Like, when you are the organizer, people immediately have more of an interest in you somehow, and it does allow you to to kinda build your network quicker. So if, yeah, if anyone’s listening and you are the person in New City or wanting to build a network, a genuine network whilst doing something cool, yeah, reach out or hit up our website.

David Hall [00:29:13]:
Very nice. Very nice. And so are people, building friendships and making connections through through your club?

Tom Norman [00:29:20]:
I hope so. You know, it’s got really high reviews. I think it’s, you know, something like 75 star reviews on meetup or something like that. I do surveys really regularly, and they’re coming up with, you know, good reviews and sometimes feedback about, you know, how to improve things. Often it’s like, oh, we really like this location or this one was a bit loud or something like that. So, you know, try, you know, make it as good as possible. And from what I hear anecdotally, people are enjoying it. So, yeah, I’m I’m really, really happy with how it’s been going so far, and, yeah, I hope it continues in this direction.

David Hall [00:29:55]:
So, you know, definitely, we’re both about it’s creating introvert friendly events. But have you learned some skills to navigate, the non introvert, friendly events as as an introvert? Have you learned to navigate those a little bit better?

Tom Norman [00:30:13]:
I would say, first of all, be kind to yourself because, you know, like I said, I wasn’t particularly kind. I’d come away quite self loathing. Like, oh, why am I rubbish? No. It’s okay. Be kind to yourself. Just because this event sucks and you don’t connect so easily, it’s okay. It’s nothing it’s not a reflection of you. If possible, and you don’t always have this choice, but I would also say, you know, giving yourself that space before the event to kind of prepare mentally and everything, kinda get into a good frame of mind, a good mood, and if possible, even decompress afterwards.

Tom Norman [00:30:43]:
You know? Before you get home, before you kinda get to the next thing, have a little bit of space there. It’s just decompress. And, you know, maybe you are feeling anxious or yourself waving even afterwards. So give yourself that space to kind of adjust back to normality again. And I I would say, you know, the other thing is even the big loud networking events, there’s probably some other people there who you can connect with. It’s just like, how do you find them? So, typically, you know, I would always look for somebody also like me, like, looking down at issues in the corner or something and try to target them because maybe they’re also introverted. We’re just trying to find that person, the needle in the haystack, the person you’d likely connect with in this this busy chaos. Otherwise but, yeah, I I try to avoid them most of the time, especially the really, really it’s not even so much.

Tom Norman [00:31:28]:
I can function sometimes at network events where it’s, you know, trying to socialize, but it’s just the loudness sometimes. If the place is exceptionally loud, I suck. So, yeah, I try to avoid the really loud places.

David Hall [00:31:40]:
Yeah. For sure. And that’s the thing too. It’s like, yeah, let’s design introvert friendly events, but also know how to navigate as an introvert all situations and and that kind of thing.

Tom Norman [00:31:54]:
And the other thing is sorry. I was gonna say, the other thing is, you know, events is only one way to meet people if in a new city. You know? The other way and this kind maybe using common sense, like, activities. You know, like, hobbies and things. Like, especially choosing those which are maybe, you know, in smaller groups. Maybe chess club, maybe, book club, or maybe, I don’t know, climbing or bouldering or something. These are maybe places where you go in slightly smaller groups. The good thing is there’s an activity to to to kinda be doing as well, so you don’t have to constantly make conversation.

Tom Norman [00:32:23]:
There’s actually something to do when you kinda make conversations on the other side. So there are other ways beyond just events to to meet people if you’re in a new city.

David Hall [00:32:31]:
Yeah. Yeah. That’s great advice. You know? Find common interests. That that’s

Tom Norman [00:32:35]:
Exactly.

David Hall [00:32:36]:
And a lot of times, you’re gonna have some deep conversations about those common interests. Right?

Tom Norman [00:32:41]:
Yeah.

David Hall [00:32:43]:
So in general, Tom, how do you manage your energy as an introvert?

Tom Norman [00:32:48]:
Sometimes not as well as I should. Sometimes I do let my, yeah, sometimes I do push myself too hard. I need, like, a few days to recuperate. But in general, you know, one of my sacred parts of the day is the first, let’s say, hour of my day. I get up at 6:30 every single day, and I have a bit of time to myself to pick a coffee. In fact, this year, I’ve been kinda learning to code, so typically, I’ll just have a bit of time on my laptop, journal a little bit, learn to code a little bit. And it’s kinda like my sacred time where there’s no expectations, there’s no other people or distractions. And, honestly, I feel without that, I do feel I I struggle a lot more during the day.

Tom Norman [00:33:26]:
I find myself a little bit more anxious. I find myself, yeah, just I guess anxious is the best word for it. So, yeah, cutting out that sacred time is important. And I’m getting better at communicating when I need time beyond that too. You know? I live with my girlfriend. I live with a partner. And in the past, when we first started dating, it was tough because I wouldn’t I feel bad about saying, oh, I need some time to myself. You know? You you shouldn’t say good things like this to your partner.

Tom Norman [00:33:49]:
But not really. Like, with time, you realize, if I don’t have this time, I’m not gonna be a great partner because I’m not gonna be the, you know, I’m not gonna be in the right frame of mind nor ever anything to be there for you. So give me some time with myself, my own activities, and just reading, sitting on the couch for the book or something. And, yeah, that’s that’s kind of the 2 ways I manage manager the most.

David Hall [00:34:11]:
Yeah. And, you know, sometimes we do have to have those conversations. It’s like, I love you. But in order in order for me to be my best for you and me, I need a little space here and there. And, you know, sometimes people can take that personally, but, you know, once they get to know, hey. You know what? Just need a little time. I tell the story, like, you know, I was going into work every day before the pandemic. And then, you know, all of a sudden, I’m working from home all the time.

David Hall [00:34:37]:
And I realized, you know, I didn’t like I didn’t love driving and paying for gas and all that stuff, but that time driving home was some time to just unwind. And when I was only working from home, I had to figure out how to replace that. And And it’s like, you know, I love my family, but I would tell my wife, okay. I’m gonna drive home now even though it was just walking from my my, home office to my bedroom, you know, to the recliner and and relaxing before I, you know, went and had dinner and engaged with the family and things like that.

Tom Norman [00:35:10]:
That’s so inter I had a very similar experience. Like, I was working remotely before as well, and it’s the same thing. Like, sometimes I did finish, and my girlfriend would start talking to me immediately.

David Hall [00:35:28]:
Yeah. That’s what that’s that’s a good way to phrase it. Tom, you’re doing great work with this introvert social club. If I’m ever in Spain, maybe I’ll check it out.

Tom Norman [00:35:37]:
Thank you so much.

David Hall [00:35:38]:
Is is there anything else you wanna tell us about it?

Tom Norman [00:35:42]:
No. I mean, basically, I really would keep that as an open invitation. Like, if people listening in are interested in creating it, you know, I am looking to expand. So, you know, keep keep in touch. Give me an email. My website is introverts dash social dot club. Bit of a mouthful, but that’s the that’s the name. But then that’s the biggest thing.

Tom Norman [00:35:59]:
You know? Like, for me, whether it’s for introverts or whether it’s for people in general, building places to help people to connect has always been very important to me. And like I said, maybe it’s come from my childhood or maybe it’s come from being on the outside and wanting to know what it’s like on the inside. So I’d say, you know, wherever you create an introvert social club or whether you’re organizing your own events about something else, think about that. Keep that in mind because people, especially in this day and age, we want to belong somewhere. We want to belong to something. We want to feel like we’re, you know, inside of something, and it’s really important to do that. So as the organizer, you’ve got a huge responsibility to help make these spaces for people to to connect, people to, yeah, to to to find each other. I think that’s pretty hard to do that.

David Hall [00:36:47]:
Yeah. And that’s the thing. We all need to connect. We all need to belong. It’s just the needs for introverts are different and often not acknowledged and often even ridiculed. You know? But it’s it’s we need to connect, and it can be in a different way. And so, again, thanks for your great work, and thanks for being on today.

Tom Norman [00:37:07]:
Thank Thanks so much for having me. It’s been a real blast, and, I look forward to, yeah, talking soon.

David Hall [00:37:12]:
Alright. Thank you so much for joining me today. I look forward to further connecting with you. Reach out at david@quietstrong.com or check out the quiet and strong dot com website, which includes blog posts and links to social media channels. Send me topics or guests you would like to see on the show. If you’re interested in getting to know yourself better, there’s now a free type finder personality assessment on the Quiet and Strong website. This free assessment will give you a brief report, including the 4 letter Myers Briggs code, and you can also have the option of purchasing the full report if you’d like to learn more. I’ll add a link to the show notes.

David Hall [00:37:49]:
So many great things about being an introvert, and we need those to be understood. Get to know your introverted strengths and needs and be strong.

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