Networking Tips for Introverts
by Brittany Jorel
A year ago
When I say "networking," what's your immediate reaction?
Some people seem to thrive off of networking! It's a fun opportunity to socialize, meet new people, and make new connections. Some individuals seem natural at "selling themselves" and creating an unforgettable first impression.
...And then there's the rest of us.
Thinking of networking might make you feel anxious or irritated. Depending on how extreme your dislike for networking is, your list of "Things I'd Rather Do" might contain anything ranging from "scrubbing my oven" to "getting a root canal."
If you're introverted, there's a good chance you're not a big fan of networking and are unsure how to get the conversations rolling. But guess what: the effort is worth the value you get from networking! Yes, it can be challenging and uncomfortable, but most things worth doing are just that. It would be best if you didn't miss out on the excellent benefits of growing your connections.
Here are some tips on how you can ease into networking!
Networking Tip 1- Online or In-person
You can attend various networking events, ranging from small conferences to industry-specific, virtual (online) events, and so on. If you're nervous about hitting up your first event in the flesh, see if online events are more your speed!
Networking Tip 2 - Moral Support
Do you have a good friend who is maybe up for tagging along? It can be far less intimidating to attend a networking event when you have someone there with whom you're already comfortable! (Bonus if they are extroverted!). Think about it – do you find someone very approachable if you see them busy on their phone or seeming to want to be alone off to the side? Try to walk around, look at people, and smile at them. Try to show that you are open to a conversation.Networking Tip 3 - Keep Your Head Up
It might be tempting to sit on your phone or sit alone in a corner with an appetizer. However, this will likely result in the networking event has been a waste of time and nerves.
Networking Tip 4 - Chattiness Not Required
I know it looks like the social butterflies are the only "successful" ones at networking events. But this isn't true! Listening is just as essential, and if you prefer listening over chatting, this can work to your advantage. Show an interest in what people tell you by nodding, making comfortable eye contact, and showing that you're listening and engaged in what they tell you by asking questions.
"How did you end up in this industry? What made you choose that major? What would you have done differently after your X experience? What did you like/dislike about that role?" And so on.
Networking Tip 5 - Be a Conversation Starter
It can be intimidating and scary to walk up to a group or a person and start a conversation. But you might be surprised that other people are also nervous at those networking events. I suggest finding one person in the room who isn't chatting with someone yet and try starting the conversation first. Here are some topic ideas to help you make the first move.
- Talk about the weather! This is especially great for virtual events, as people's locations are likely more scattered, and they are experiencing different types of weather
- Ask what brought them to the event
- Ask what they are drinking
- Compliment their outfit
- Compliment their presentation/panel discussion
- Say how awkward you are at networking events – they might say, "Me too!"
- Try an oldie but a goodie: "Have I seen you before?"
Networking Tip 6 - Follow Up
To really solidify your networking experience, follow up with people! Find them on social media, chat with them via private messaging, and maybe make plans to meet up for coffee and continue your conversation from the networking event.
Networking Tip 7 -Give Yourself Grace
Last but not least, remove some pressure from yourself! Do you know the saying, "Quality over quantity"? That's true for networking, as well. Having one or two good connections is better than briefly connecting with 10+ people you never end up talking to again.
If you're an introvert and have tips on what has worked for you, I would love to hear about it in the comments!