Want to Enjoy a Social Event More? Find Your Fellow Introverts

Two introverts talk at a work event

“Birds of a feather,” right? In any given social situation, a lot of people around you will be introverts, too, so why not stick together?

I was talking with my old college roommate recently, when out of his mouth came something I couldn’t fathom.

“How’s all your stuff with introverts going?” he asked, regarding my introvert advocacy work, as we visited over the turkey-and-gravy lunch following his father’s funeral.

“Good,” I replied, figuring the question was nothing more than distracted chit-chat.


“I really relate to it all,” Dave returned.

Wait… what?! I thought to myself. You’re an extrovert, Dave. On steroids.

“There’s nothing better,” Dave went on, “than finally getting some time to yourself and being able to turn off all the damn noise and commotion after a long day.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing from my old friend.

Dave — my Dave — the Dave I’ve known since Reagan was president… the Dave who was the much more dominant voice on our “Pete & Dave” campus radio show that nobody listened to… the Dave who was (and still is) the proverbial life-of-the-party Dave… was… is… an introvert?


He was saying so himself, right to my face.

And once again I realized that I had blown it. For decades, in this case.

I had identified someone in my life, someone I know well, as an extrovert — when, in fact, they themselves identify as an introvert (or at least as much more introverted than anyone would have ever guessed).

This has happened to me dozens of times, with close friends and family members alike. I’ll picture them in my mind and think, extrovert for sure, only to find out later that the opposite is true from their perspective.

I’ll bet the same thing has happened to you, too.

But you know what has never happened to me (and I’m guessing, you, as well)?

The reverse.

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You Can Spot a Fellow Introvert 

Yes, you’ve probably mistaken your fair share of introverts for extroverts. As have I. But when’s the last time you’ve pegged someone as an introvert and they’ve turned out to be… an extrovert?

If your answer is “Never,” join the club.

If we introverts think someone is an introvert for sure, we’re rarely wrong (even if we’re sometimes off-base in our extrovert for sure assessments!).

And guess what? We can use this sixth sense — this ability to accurately spot another introverted traveler — in social settings to make them not just bearable, but enjoyable.

We can band together with our fellow introverts in social situations. (And they, with us.) We just need to find them. As in locate them, literally, in whatever setting we’re in, be it professional or personal.

We introverts don’t generally seek out the spotlight, after all. So we won’t be in the middle of the social fray, easy to see. So where are we? That is, where are your fellow introverts (you’ll know them when you see them!) hanging out at social events?

Here’s where to look, at each type of gathering.

3 Places to Find Introverts at Professional Events

Imagine you’re at a conference or similar event. Think keynote speaker(s), breakout sessions in various seminar rooms, a noisy exhibit hall with a bunch of vendors, lunch and/or dinner in a cavernous ballroom, a post-dinner networking event afterwards, and so on…

Where will you find your people — your fellow introverts — in this type of scenario? Here are a few places to check out.

1. Sitting alone in semi-plain sight

I don’t think I’ll ever fully get over the apprehensive feeling of being at a conference, walking into the crowded ballroom for, say, lunch, and seeing a bunch of people at round tables, already engaged with others as they wait for the meal to be served.

Talk about feeling all alone. And intimidated.

What to do? Look for the person who is also sitting at a table by themselves (or close to it), trying to blend in, and ask to join them.

“Wait!” you might respond upon hearing this advice. “I’m an introvert, and I hate it when I’m alone and people ask to join me. Why would I do that to someone else?”

Fair point — in most cases. It’s a counterargument that holds when, for example, you’re at the coffee shop and just want to read a book in peace. And solitude. If someone comes along and asks to join you in that situation, you do not sigh with relief. Instead, you curse under your breath.

But at a conference? You yourself would (and probably do) appreciate the company, and chances are, the person you’re approaching will feel the same.

Why? Because you’re not only helping yourself in this situation, you’re helping the other person, too. Both of you will be calmer and more at ease if you team up, so to speak.

2. Standing alone, off to the side

Whether you’re in the ballroom eating dinner, in the main conference hall listening to the keynote speaker, or in one of the smaller rooms for a breakout session, you’ll invariably notice someone not sitting alone, but rather, standing alone. They’ll be off to one side of the room (or perhaps even in the back by the exit).

This person is likely doing visual reconnaissance (same as you, perhaps?), trying to figure out where — or whether — to sit down.

Catch this person and ask if they’d like to sit down with you. Again, in a typical situation, you’d probably never do this (or want it done to you!). But in a conference environment, it’s mutually beneficial. And you both know it.

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

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3. Out of close range, perhaps even outside

You’re not the only introvert at the conference who at some point thinks to themselves: I gotta get out of here — completely — for a while.

But then what? Where do you go?

Often, it’s quite far away from the event proceedings. You’re still in the same general vicinity, but you’re out of immediate sight and earshot.

Think the first-floor main lobby when the event itself is on the third floor… or the fireplace in the lounge area of the skyway-connected hotel… or outside and across the boulevard to sit on a bench.

I have a favorite go-to line I use when I come across other people in these hideaways: “Does this happen to be The Introvert Zone?”

It usually is. And you’ll typically be welcomed with open arms (though perhaps not an open mouth offering up instant conversation).


Where to Find Introverts at Personal Events

Suppose you’re at a big family gathering or a friend’s housewarming party. Where will you find your fellow introverts in this type of scenario?

1. Looking at books or artwork

Who’s that person admiring all the beautiful photographs on the wall? And who’s that other person pulling books off the shelf, perhaps even sitting down nearby to page through one of them?

Well, you may not know who — yet — but it’s a decent bet they’re a fellow introvert. So wander over. Start looking at the photos and/or the books yourself. Something you both notice could ignite a discussion that is fruitful, enlightening, and blissfully deep.

2. Playing with the kid(s) and/or the pet(s)

One of the many effective socializing tricks I have developed over the years is gravitating toward the kid(s) and/or the pet(s) at gatherings of family or friends.

I’m not alone.

So look for your fellow introvert(s) playing with the children in attendance… or sitting in a recliner with the cat purring in their lap… or trying to get the dog to shake hands.

3. Out of close range, perhaps even outside

Often you’ll find your fellow introverts not in the same room as everyone else, but in a different place altogether.

One common introvert socializing hack, for example, is taking on some sort of helping role in the situation at hand. So you’ll often find a fellow introvert or two in, say, the kitchen, cleaning the mess from the counters or doing the dishes. 

Or maybe you’ll find an introvert or two doing what my very introverted father used to do at family gatherings: reconvening in the garage, or in the driveway adjacent to the garage, to catch their breath (or, in my dad’s case, to bathe in the smoky haze of a Winston Ultra Light 100 cigarette).

Remember, the Numbers Are on Your Side

Statistically speaking, roughly half of us are on the introverted side of the introvert-extrovert continuum, while the other half are on the extroverted side.

And according to a 2023 YouGov survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, 9 percent of Americans see themselves as “completely introverted,” while another 29 percent categorize themselves as “more introverted than extroverted.”

So, in any given social situation, a lot of the people around you will be fellow introverts, feeling the same way you do. Yes, you’ll mistake some of these folks for extroverts! (Oops.) But you can count on knowing your fellow introverts when you see them. 

So, look for them — purposefully. Then bond with them, so that you don’t just survive social gatherings, you thrive at them.

And then have the genuinely good time you deserve.

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