Our top Networking tips for introverts
For some the word alone triggers sweaty palms, dry mouth (and possibly a quick Google to double check that no one ever did invent the Harry Potter style invisibility cloak). Stop. Breathe. With just a few tips business networking needn’t be terrifying.
"Introverts can find networking intimidating because of all the louder extroverts in the room trying to sell themselves,” says Stefan Thomas, author of Networking for Dummies and self-confessed introvert. “But introverts make the best networkers because they’re good listeners and tend to be more interested in other people than about talking about themselves.*
1. Thank your lucky stars for technologyWith the magic of social media (and other online resources such as Eventbrite) you can conduct some research before you attend. Check out the list of attendees - Is there anyone that would be good for you to connect with? Or perhaps it would put your mind at rest just to know the plan for the day? A little research will mean you can show up well-prepared with talking points, questions and a better sense of the people you're meeting with.
2. Prep a couple of conversation starters“How long have you been a member of this group?”“What’s your favorite part of your job?”Having a few open questions up your sleeve goes a long way if you find yourself in an awkward moment.You could even ask someone about the event - “Which one of today’s speakers was your favorite?” or “What was the most useful thing you’ve learned from today’s sessions?”
3. Be an early birdWalking into a room of strangers is your first hurdle. Arrive early and start making connections one-on-one before it gets too busy.
4. Quality not quantitySet yourself a target for a few meaningful interactions. Rather than whizzing around the room collecting fistfuls of business cards, aim for an achievable number of conversations with people that you can genuinely see yourself connecting with again after the event.
5. ListenBy nature introverts are great listeners, allow yourself the time to take in what others are saying. It’s easy to get so caught up in thinking about what you should say next, that you don’t actually follow the conversation. If you have a ‘that’s what I should have said’ epiphany after the fact, save that thought and use it as a conversation starter when you reach out with an email after the session.
6. Befriend a super connectorLook out for someone who seems to know everyone at the party; chatting to a “super connector” will probably result in more professional introductions without you having to take the lead.
7. Just be honestBreak the ice by letting people know that networking isn’t usually your thing. You’ll feel more at ease by opening up and most importantly, be yourself. No one is expecting you to act like an extrovert, find your own way of making connections.