Figuring out how to network presents difficulties for all of us, particularly introverts. If socializing tires or intimidates you, you may feel unsure of what improving your networking skills will take.
Will you need to assume a different personality? Are introverts at a disadvantage here?
Fortunately, the answer to both of those questions is a resounding “No!” Introverts have unique strengths they can put towards mastering networking. Networking takes work for introverts, but it is worth it.
Read on to learn tips on how introverts can more effectively approach networking.
How to network online and in person: An introvert’s guide:
1. You do not need to pretend to be an extrovert.
The idea that introverts must create an extroverted false self to successfully network is outdated and harmful. Forcing yourself to be extroverted can lead to problems such as imposter syndrome and burnout. It can also read as phony to others.
Embrace your authentic self for the best results.
2. Network virtually.
Networking skills extend to the digital realm. If you do not always enjoy in-person socializing, you can make networking easier by using professional networking sites and social media to share your work and connect with others. Introverts may find online networking less draining and easier to take at their pace.
3. If huge events just aren’t for you, skip them.
Huge events aren’t for everyone, especially introverts who may suffer from anxiety issues. Remember that you do not need to force yourself to attend optional large-scale events to network successfully.
Forcing yourself to attend these events can take up time you could spend networking in more comfortable settings.
4. If it’s an in-person event, bring a “buddy.”
Bringing a work or personal friend can make it easier to avoid feelings of awkwardness or boredom at in-person events.
If you have a buddy with you, you have a backup conversation partner for periods spent waiting for an interesting or meaningful new connection to arise. And if your friend is outgoing and can take the lead on introducing you to others, all the better.
5. Look for other introverts.
When arriving in any networking setting, keep your eyes peeled for fellow introverts. Who seems to be at the periphery, keeping a low profile? Who’s speaking less and listening more? You may find these people easier to approach.
6. Arrive early.
It can also help to arrive at events early. There are fewer people, and attendees are still seeking conversational partners. Approaching a lone person may feel less intimidating than diving into an active conversation.
People who show up early may be more serious-minded and likely to prefer genuine conversations.
7. Set intentions and goals beforehand.
You can improve the outcomes of attending events by defining your intentions and goals ahead of time, such as:
- Focusing on genuine interactions:
- Talking to two to three people per event:
- Leaving early so you do not get overwhelmed:
Think about what you hope to learn or gain from events or people. Practice interactions – such as introducing yourself or summarizing your role – in advance.
8. Realize that most people feel the same way you do.
You would be surprised how many extroverts find conversing with strangers difficult! Virtually anyone can feel self-conscious and uncomfortable socially. Many networking event attendees hope that someone will approach them. Take the leap and try approaching first.
9. Know yourself, and set reasonable expectations.
Be aware of your limitations and take care of yourself. If you’re at capacity, excuse yourself and regroup. If you strive to exceed your limitations and end up miserable, you’ll struggle to form connections and network effectively.
10. Ask for warm introductions.
Is there somebody you’re interested in meeting or learning from? Do not hesitate to ask a mutual connection for a warm introduction. Introductions are just another form of social lubricant that makes it easier to get started on a positive note with strangers.
11. Hang out on the outskirts.
There’s a lot to be said for staying out of the spotlight. Most in-person events feature less active areas at the sidelines where people can recharge. This is where you’re likely to meet like-minded individuals.
12. Do not pressure yourself to get it perfect.
Don’t be hard on yourself if you occasionally hit wrong notes when trying to network. Occasionally, you can build a possible connection up in your mind as important, and it does not happen. It’s possible to not click with certain people through no fault of your own.
Move forward and stay optimistic.
13. Accept that it’s okay and normal to have nerves.
It’s okay to feel slightly nervous about networking. Introverts and extroverts alike grapple with nerves sometimes. Approaching interactions confidently and not sweating the small things can go a long way when networking.
Remember to treat yourself with kindness and withhold judgment from yourself and others.