Networking For Introverts
If you are introverted, the thought of going to a networking event may fill you full of dread. As an introvert myself, I can tell you that it can get easier. As I was helping my introvert child prepare for a networking event, we talked about some strategies to make the evening go better. After coming back from the event, he said that it went much better than he would have thought. He talked to a few people and seemed to enjoy himself. Success!
Here are some suggestions I have to make a networking event productive and less intimidating:
1) Come to a networking event early
I have learned over time that it is best to get to a networking event a bit early, especially if I do not know anyone. Why? Since there will only be a few people there, it is much easier to find someone to talk with as groups usually have not formed yet. I find people are usually eager to talk with anyone that approaches them.
2) If there is food being served, the food line is a natural place to talk to people
Standing in line with a plate in hand is a natural time to strike up a conversation with the person ahead or behind you. You are there for the same purpose, and if nothing else, you can discuss the food, how hungry you are, etc.
3) If you have a networking meeting where you will be sitting at tables, find a table where several others are already sitting. If you are introverted, it might be tempting to sit at a table where no one else has sat down. Don’t do it. An easier way to strike up a conversation is when people are waiting for a meeting to start and are sitting at a table. If you see a few people sitting at a table, ask “Is someone sitting here?” When you hear “no”, immediately introduce yourself to the table. This is a natural starter for conversation.
4) If you can, bring a friend or “wingman”
My son is shy, my daughter is not. Since they are in the same field, she has volunteered to go to some networking events with him. She is less intimidated by striking up conversations, so she can start a conversation and bring her brother into it. This is not always possible but a helpful strategy.
Networking for those that are introverted may never by easy, but you can practice to make it easier. These tips have helped me and may help you as well.