Networking for introverts. A contradictory sounding term.
At some point during the course of your life, you may have been labelled shy. Or perhaps, you’ve found it difficult to socialise when attending social gatherings. Opening up to seemingly random strangers may feel a step too far.
If this sounds like you, then you most likely have found networking to be an exhausting task. However, networking is important, especially for professionals looking to create connections that could further support their long goals. Being an introvert can make it difficult, but it certainly isn’t impossible.
Whilst small talk may not naturally be your strongest point, creating a rapport with people you’re meeting for the first time can be made easier by having a few tricks up your sleeve to help you overcome this.
The aim of this article is to provide you with a few tips that anyone can use, even as an introvert. Providing you have the desire to network and promote yourself, we’re sure you’ll find some value.
Whilst these are very effective tips, they’re not designed to transform you into the individual who loves being in the middle of a room full of people, soaking up the attention. They will however, ensure you’re prepared and left feeling confident, when in any situation that requires you to network!
Before heading to a social event or gathering, spend 5 or 10 minutes thinking about your objectives, what would you like to learn from the people you plan to network with.
You should have a couple of questions that you can ask. Questions such as “What is your passion?” or “How would you say your career began?”.
If you feel like you’re being put on the spot by asking these questions and that makes you nervous, take some time to practice asking them ahead of schedule. Even if just in the mirror to be be sure they come out smoothly and naturally.
Additionally, you could think about the things you would love to share concerning yourself, not necessarily relying on anyone to carry the conversation.
If there’s one you should remember, it is that the majority of people at these networking events probably feel just like you do: terrified of networking.
Rather than dwelling on just how scared you are to begin a conversation, just simply consider it as you helping these people become comfortable. It could be that the individual sitting alone doesn’t know anybody and is hoping someone will say hi. Be that person.
Networking is not something you have to do alone. You can tag along with someone to help make those events a lot less intimidating.
Your conference partner could be a friend or a work college. That being said, if you do intend to go it alone, take the time to form a connection with someone there. This way you’ll have someone to sit with during intervals, you’ll also be able to introduce them to people thereby taking the spotlight off of you for a brief moment.
The moment you begin a conversation, you should refrain from worrying about what you are going to say, and what the other person’s thinking. Whilst difficult, you should instead concentrate on your new associate. Ask a lot of questions and take the time to channel your active listening skills.
A smile is a very powerful weapon, it can be used to break the ice and transform most situations. It effectively signals that I’m friendly and open to contact’.
You don’t always have to be the one initiating contact, however a well timed and appropriate smile might just make someone else feel comfortable in approaching.
Try not to adapt a position which makes you appear to be stand offish from the rest of the group. Subtle cues such as arms crossed can signal the opposite of what you’re there to achieve, sending a loud and clear “do not approach” beacon to those around you.
Try to smile, relax, and appear as a warm and casual individual. Doing so will open you up to the possibility of conversation.
If you personality type is one where you’re comfortable around strangers. Then, when choosing to attend networking events, you may not consider, or even think about the type of crowds that might be attending. However, introverts tend not to approach things in the same way.
If you’re not the type of individual who prefers highly interactive and engaging environments with strangers, you might avoid environment that encourage forces socialising. Most introverts prefer to control the type of environment they’re in, networking events included.
You will have to create your own events by bringing together people that enjoy the same type of environments you do.
When deciding whether you should or should not go to the next networking event. Do a quick routine cost-benefit analysis. Think about it, if you don’t go to the event, what are you likely to be doing instead? This allows you to weigh up the value of both options and pit them against each other.
This great piece of advice will ensure you’re always your time in the most effective manner, according to your lifestyle and goals.
When invited to an event, before immediately responding with a reason why you’re unavailable. Take some time to find out, what sort of people are likely to attend, do they fit into your target demographic, where is the event, what investment of time will it take, and any other key facts. By doing this you can determine if it’ll be a worthwhile investment of your time; or if you’ll sit this one out.
Large, crowded events tend to make networking difficult, whereas small intimate settings can aid networking. So be sure to assess the opportunity using these measures before simply responding with ‘thanks, but no thanks’.
Knowing better is one thing, doing better is another.
As humans we tend to know the things we ought to change quite quickly, however altering the behaviours and habits can often be a longer process. Its important you actively put things into practice. Challenge yourself, make a point of meeting a certain number of people every month, by attending smaller, local events.
Doing this exercise will boost your confidence while providing you with a great sense of direction. You might not be ready to meet 50 people each month, but you should take this challenge as a way for you to grow outside of your comfort zone. Gradually increasing the style, size and participation in events over the coming months.
By nature of its design, networking is something that disadvantages introverts, however, the ideas listed above in this article are just some of the tips and tricks that enable introverts to network.
It’s important to acknowledge your personality type, and if you are an introvert, having a plan of attack prior to arriving will help you to feel more comfortable, and achieve more success from the events you attend.
Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) has always mattered to those from marginalised communities. Being the only person in a room that looks like you can sometimes make you feel excluded. For a black woman, something as simple as getting ready for work might cause a level of anxiety that in an ideal world, wouldn’t exist. […]
In a world driven by money, it is quite ironic that discussing a pay rise and asking for more of it is considered taboo. To break this very common stigma, it’s important to recognise the value of your work and observe any signs that you are being underpaid. Red flags may be things such […]
Annually, millions of students leave academic institutions, all with one question on their minds. How to secure a job after graduation? After you graduate, the hunt for a job starts and along with it comes graduate job anxiety. The moment you step into the job market, you begin to feel as though you’re just […]
Are you struggling with your CV, or simply unsure if your CV is the reason you’re not getting interviews? Many job seekers struggle when it comes to this, asking themselves ‘How to write my CV’. The most important, yet most challenging part of the job search process. As part of our 90 minute […]
These cookies are necessary and so are set automatically.
You can block cookies by activating the setting on your browser that allows you to refuse the setting of all or some cookies. However, if you use your browser settings to block all cookies (including essential cookies) you may not be able to access all or parts of our website.
We use the following cookies:
Strictly necessary cookies
These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website, use a shopping cart or make use of e-billing services.
These allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works, for example, by ensuring that users are finding what they are looking for easily.
These are used to recognise you when you return to our website. This enables us to personalise our content for you, greet you by name and remember your preferences (for example, your choice of language or region).
These cookies record your visit to our website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We will use this information to make our website and the advertising displayed on it more relevant to your interests. We may also share this information with third parties for this purpose.