Networking is proven as an effective way to ‘market’ yourself, be it for personal or professional purposes. Showing up at a networking event is a great way to meet, mingle, and build new connections with new people. As more countries are recovering from the pandemic and allowing public events, this implies that in-person networking will soon return too. While this may sound exciting for those who have been yearning for face-to-face interaction, direct networking may be intimidating for introverted individuals.
Now, do you relate to this situation? If yes, then read on because we will learn the guide to networking for introverts.
Start with the Right Mindset
Introverts are known as shy individuals, and it is no secret that shy people are often excessively concerned with themselves, which builds uneasiness within. To overcome the anxiety, trick your mind to minimize any negative assumptions people may have about you. Learn to build your confidence one step at a time; not everyone you meet dislikes you, and just because they gaze at you does not mean something is wrong with how you look or act. Building confidence takes time, and it is a life-long learning experience for introverts. In any case, Rome was not created in a day, and neither is your confidence.
Bring a Friend
For introverts, it is not easy to suddenly turn into a ‘people person’ within a few days or weeks. It makes sense if you want to start networking with a friend at first. Bringing a companion may make events far less intimidating. When you are with a friend, you will not feel as if you have to be “on” all the time, and you’ll find it much simpler to calm down. You will sincerely enjoy someone’s comforting presence at your side at the start, when the event’s first impression may be a little daunting. The more time you spend there, the more familiar you will become with the circumstance and the more open you will become. This way, you will have someone to talk to and can help each other out at the event.
A friend also can introduce you to other individuals at the event, which can help break down some obstacles. Needless to say, keep in mind that you can make friends during a networking event. If you go to an event alone, try to connect with at least one other person; it may be someone you know, but it does not always have to be. The real goal is for your networking buddy to give support and help you in stepping outside of your comfort zone, rather than keeping you stuck in it.
Get Topics Prepared
Even extroverts will find it difficult to engage in a conversation where they don’t really know the topic well. In such a situation, you might feel more anxious when joining the talk and the conversation might get awkward. To prevent yourself from such a scenario, preparation is key. For example, if you want to expand your network in the financial field, get yourself accustomed to themes such as personal finance, insurance, investment, and so on. Read articles, books, news, or anything else that will provide you with enough information to keep the conversation going between you and your future network. Not interested in reading or just don’t have the time? You can always listen to podcasts or watch videos of the topic discussed.
Mind Your Body Language
You communicate not only with your words but also with your gestures. This is why you need to mind your body language. As an introvert, you may hesitate to initiate a conversation first. In that case, you need to look approachable when networking. Even a small smile may go a long way toward letting people know you are willing to take part in a talk. Use your body language to communicate openness, and try to smile rather than turn away anytime you catch someone’s gaze. People will value you if you make yourself look friendly. If you have a habit of seeming closed off, try to become mindful of it and work to change it.
Read Also: Simple Ways to Know Your Coworkers Better
Ask surprising questions
One good thing about being introverted is that they can make the most of every situation. They tend to ask thoughtful questions after listening attentively. Therefore, being in a group of people is not always a tough task. Rather, you can draw their attention by asking surprising but meaningful questions such as what is keeping you up at night lately? Or, do you have any fun side hustle right now? Moreover, it is duly noted that maybe you are not the only introvert out there. Possibly, there is someone who is also waiting for people to talk to him. So be that person! Instead of dwelling on how scary it is to suddenly mingle with a group of people, you can approach that single person and start a conversation. “Have you ever been to this kind of event before?” can be a good opening line.
Be the Listener
To be a good networker, you do not really need to be a strong speaker, but you do need to be an attentive listener. That means you have to be there and listen without worrying about how you’re going to reply. It includes “listening” with your eyes as well as your ears for body language signs. It also means being engaged without trying to speak. This is done by nodding at the right time, making tiny or minor interjections, and keeping eye contact. When you actively listen, your conversation partner becomes more invested, and the discussion flows more smoothly and spontaneously. As a result, networking will no longer seem like labor; rather, it will be joyful.
Last but not least, you do not want to take your ‘networking effort’ for granted, especially that you have gone a long way from your introvert cage. This is why you need to keep in touch with new people you meet during a networking event. Ask if they do mind for you to connect with them through LinkedIn, as this is one of the best professional ‘social networks’ without invading someone’s private life. Do not forget to also thank them for their time to talk with you; it will make them feel highly appreciated!
Being an introvert should not be used as an excuse to avoid interacting with other people. There are ways to be authentic to your reserved personality as a person while yet learning how to approach people in order to advance in your job. Best of luck!