Just receiving an invitation to a networking event can be enough to increase stress levels and elicit a sense of dread in an introverted professional. If you’re an introvert who constantly avoids networking events, however, you’re passing up on some very nice opportunities.
In my experience, while matching talented professionals with leading companies, I’ve observed that simple networking attempts result in new business, career advancement, and valuable professional connections. Instead of staying home – or attending and setting up camp in the corner with your mobile – take a good look at the following techniques that lead to more lucrative networking for introverts.
Seek Out Small Groups and Private Conversations
Do you really get nervous whenever you walk into any space with a big group of individuals? Set aside a second and don’t forget that you won’t have to talk with them all at once. Like many overwhelming things in life, that big crowd could be broken down into more manageable parts. If you see a small grouping of two or three – or even better a person standing alone – go introduce yourself. You will not just become more comfortable in a small group situation, but you’re also almost certainly going to have productive, meaningful exchanges.
Practice Talking About Yourself
When you avoid sharing information regarding yourself or if you hurry through descriptions of exactly what you do, you’re passing up on the principal benefit of networking. Put another way, you may also have stayed on your couch reading a book.
Before you go to your next happy hour, practice responding to some of the common questions regarding yourself and giving considerate answers which are longer than just a handful of words. When you are in front of others, you’ll be less likely to speed past or skip over a great opportunity for personal exposure.
Take a co-worker Along
Rather than quietly envying your extroverted coworker’s organic networking talents, ask him to join you at your next event. There is a strong likelihood of you to meet more people, but you can consider your colleague to be a “home base” to return to if you feel overwhelmed. Just make sure you’re not clinging to your coworker’s side at the cost of enhancing your personal networking abilities.
Come up with a Definite Plan
Do your eyes begin to mist over after over one hour at the networking event? The simple solution is to prepare your exit before you hit a wall. Always establish exactly how long you are gonna stay at an event, and ensure to making the most of this time. You’ll be much more productive when you know you’ll be back home and enjoying your own company by 6:00 PM.
When you have a time-limit in place nevertheless you find yourself counting down the time in place of getting productive, incorporate a goal into your plan. Challenge yourself to communicate with no less than six people and hand-out fourteen business cards, for example, before the event ends.
Take Care of Yourself
Even if you follow these introvert networking tips, you may still leave events feeling drained. Instead of fighting your personality, give yourself permission to be selective about your attendance. Make note of what types of networking sessions work best for you (morning vs. evening, meals vs. hours that are happy etc.), and only commit to attending those.
Understand that you may also have to plan an introvert-friendly escape following a networking meeting. Taking time for yourself allows you to revitalize and gets you prepared to undertake another event.