Networking for the Introvert

Dec 14, 2016

vsg9u253qvy-gili-benitaWe’ve all been told how important it is for professionals to network with other professionals, forming connections and building relationships. Introverts often struggle with meeting new people and engaging in small talk – both of which occur at networking events. However, depending on your field and your position, it is difficult to avoid. Stop avoiding and start preparing for situations that you know will make you feel uneasy. Navigate networking with these simple tips. 

Networking for the Introvert 

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare 

This is true of nearly anything, especially if you are susceptible to nerves. Thorough preparation will save you from that awkward silence when neither person knows how to continue the conversation. Jot down a few questions to ask people before heading to any event. In fact, you may want to begin thinking about this days in advance. What would you like to know about this group of individuals? If you know of certain people that will be attending, take a minute to Google their names. You never know what they might be involved with in the community, such as charity efforts and sponsorships. Also decide what you will share about yourself. You do not want to be so nervous that you blurt out information just to say something, and end up oversharing.

Fake It Til You Make it 

Smile! Yes, it can be fake – at first. A worried frown will not encourage anyone to approach you. Keep an open, friendly face, even if it does not reflect how you currently feel. Once you begin to relax and become more familiar with the environment, those smiles will be more genuine. You will not have to initiate every conversation – people will come up to you.

Partner Up

Boost your confidence by enlisting a partner in crime to attend events with you. If you have a choice of which coworker to bring along, choose one that you know will keep you engaged and relaxed. If you must attend alone, try to make at least one connection. Perhaps this is a person that you often see at events, but have never had a long conversation with. Cultivate that relationship.

Be Engaged

When someone is talking to you, do not be so focused on what you should say next that you completely miss what they are saying.  They will be able to tell if you are not present, or if you are scanning the room searching for the next person that you should approach. Show interest by asking follow-up questions to the statements they have made.

The more you make a conscience effort to be outgoing at networking events, the easier it will become. Do not be discouraged by one conversation that did not go as you planned. There will be others, but do not pass up valuable connections because you were too “shy” to approach them.