Networking can be difficult for anyone, but when you’re an introvert it can feel a lot more daunting.
Have you ever attended a professional event only to break into a cold sweat when it’s time to network? The idea of walking up to complete strangers and striking up a professional conversation can feel really daunting to anyone. If you’re an introvert, this prospect can seem even scarier.
However, networking has a lot of benefits for your career so mastering it can be a great skill. In fact, introverts have some traits that can work in their favour if they know how to harness them. Luckily, we’ve got some tips for introverts who want to master the art of networking.
Going into a room full of people can be the scariest part, so why not start online? That way you can focus on one-to-one networking at the beginning and make meaningful connections. If you have an event coming up that will involve networking, why not see if you can make a connection with someone ahead of time?
When it comes to going to a real-life networking event, it’s good to prepare yourself as best you can, especially if you’re feeling intimidated. Set yourself a goal – whatever you think is manageable – and aim to reach it. It could be meeting between five and seven new connections, or it could be as few as one or two. Goals will keep you focused on something tangible for when you get there.
Have a plan for a reprieve
As an introvert, you may feel better if you know there’s somewhere for you to retreat to every now and again. Either ahead of time or once you arrive there and are able to scope out the venue, figure out your plan for escaping. You may not even need the reprieve, but knowing the option is there can work like a safety net and leave you feeling much more comfortable.
Play to your strengths
You may think a networking event is the time for extroverts to shine, but in reality introverts have very unique traits that can help them excel. Introverts are often better in one-to-one situations and tend to want to listen more than talk about themselves. These traits can give you a very strong networking game if you seek out those personal connections and have a meaningful conversation.
Can you bring a buddy?
Sometimes it’s nice to have backup, so if you have the opportunity to bring someone along and would feel more comfortable not being there alone, feel free to bring a buddy. Who you pick should depend on what you need to help you excel. Do you need an extrovert to be that bold personality who will bring you out of your comfort zone, or do you just need a reserved support system there while you do your thing? It’s important to think about this before you pick your networking buddy.
Follow up afterwards
Have you just left a successful networking session? Congratulations! But your work is still not done. To really build on the connections you made, follow up with them to further develop the professional relationship. It will make it easier going forward, especially if you’re likely to see these people at future events. Building lasting connections will mean you will have more ‘buddies’ at the next event.
Remember, you’re not alone
Networking is tough. A lot of people express their disdain or at least their anxiety with attending networking events, especially when they don’t know anyone. When you’re standing at the edge of the room looking at a big crowd, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone in your feelings. In that very room there are plenty of people just like you, even the ones who look like they’re a dab hand at it. That simple realisation can go a long way towards alleviating your fears.