Networking with people you don’t know is always a challenge. Introverts who need some internal space can still be great at networking events with these top tips.
Introverts can often find the noise and pace of networking a challenge. It’s not about confidence or shyness – being an introvert is more about being at your most comfortable when you’re inward facing. Being an introvert does not put you at a disadvantage in social situations, either. In fact, you may find you have better listening skills and one to one rapport once you’ve found your feet.
Not sure what personality type you are? Read more about introverts and how they can be their best self at work.
4 Tips for introverts when networking
Not everybody loves networking. Even those who appear confident can be found giving themselves a big pep talk before entering a room full of people they don’t know. Networking is how we build our knowledge, circle of expertise and often friends too. Networking is an important skill, so let’s look at some things that might help you.
1. Take away the unknown
A lot of the issues introverts have with networking can stem from not knowing anyone in the room.
- Ask a friend or colleague if they would like to go too.
- Get to know people a little bit in advance by being responsive in the emails or event notifications that are sent out. Send a personal note to the host that you are looking forward to seeing them.
- Follow the event’s # and look up people attending on LinkedIn (if you have an account). This isn’t a test of your spy skills, but if you want to get a feel for personalities, you can also check more personalised public social accounts like Twitter. It will help to take away some of the mystery of who’ll be there.
2. Plan what you’ll say in advance
- Practice introducing yourself and what you do.
- You don’t have to come up with witty stories or long biographies. There’s no pressure to be the most interesting person!
- It’s the first time and sometimes only time you’ll meet these people, so don’t worry about trying to show off all your skills.
3. Plan a graceful exit
Plan some escape strategies if things get too much or you are finding yourself in a big loud group and need to get away for a bit.
For example, you can excuse yourself by saying you’ve seen an old friend or colleague you need to catch, you need the bathroom or you have a call to make.
If there are any events like panels or talks or workshops at the networking event, go along! You will learn something, and also get to absorb information passively with no-one focusing on you, which can give you some much-needed quiet space. It will also give you a talking-point with others, e.g. “Did you see/what did you think of X’s panel?”
4. Play to your communication strengths as an introvert
- People love talking about themselves, so listen and be engaged in the conversation. In networking situations everyone is often trying to sell themselves, and people will be so grateful to talk with someone who actually wants to listen.
- Exchange names or business cards. Then you can follow up the next day on email or social channels like Twitter or LinkedIn. You can have time to think then about what you’d like out of the connection.
It’s always a big deal to step into a room full of strangers – even when you’re an extrovert and love crowds! With these tips, even people who need space to hear themselves think can feel comfortable networking. You know what the secret of networking is? Be yourself. Allow yourself to do what you need to do in order to feel comfortable. We can all shine in a crowd… in our own way.