DEAR HARRIETTE: I started a new job and want to become more social with my colleagues. They invite me to happy hours and evening work events, and everyone is very nice and great to be around. However, I feel like I am an outsider, or I don’t match the same energy as the others. I am an introvert, but I want to learn to become more social and improve my networking skills. I want to come out of my shell, but I am afraid I may come off as fake and not my authentic self. How do I show interest and improve my networking skills while still being me? -- Shy Girl, Seattle
DEAR SHY GIRL: The good news is that your co-workers are actively pursuing you and working to include you in their after-work events. This means they like you and want to get to know you better.
Remember that most people like to talk about themselves. Observe your co-workers and notice little things about each of them that point to their personalities and interests. When you are sitting near them at these after-work gatherings, bring up what you have observed about them. For example, if a co-worker loves animals, ask him to tell you about his pets. If another is into sports, ask what her favorite teams are. Simple questions that show you are paying attention will get your co-workers talking and engaging with you. Give it time to find your comfort zone.