Networking can be a challenge for people that are uncomfortable in a big crowd and talking amongst people they don’t know quite well. Indeed, introverts face difficult challenges when it comes to working a networking event, but they do have what it takes to impress and succeed.
The first thing introverts should do to succeed at networking is to reach out to the people who will be attending the event beforehand by searching them online. It’s easier than ever with the internet to get acquainted with professionals in your field, just do a quick Google search. Aside from getting to know the professionals in your field, come up with a list of questions to ask them beforehand. This way, you can work on memorizing the questions so you don’t feel pressured to ask any off the top of your head at the event.
At a large networking event, you aren’t the only introvert there. Scope out someone who is shy as well and strike up a conversation with them. Finding someone to talk to right when you get there will take away the anxiety of starting a conversation. The more you delay the initiative to start a conversation, the harder it will be. So, right when you walk into the event, scope out someone that seems just as shy as you, and ask them what brings them here. They’ll be just as relieved as you are that someone is talking to them.
Having a conversation with people you don’t know that well can be scary and intimidating. Familiarize yourself with the person you are speaking with by asking them questions and listening to what they have to say. People love to talk about themselves, so this shouldn’t be a problem and you might find things you have in common with the person. Introverts are great at listening, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Introverts aren’t usually ones to boast about themselves. This can be a problem when you’re trying to sell yourself at a networking event. Give yourself confidence by talking about what you’re good at. Everyone is good at something, pinpoint what you’re good at doing in your field and talk about that with others.
When holding a conversation, remember to smile and make good eye contact. As nervous as you may be, don’t let it show. Smiling and showing you are having a good time talking with others will leave a good impression.
Introverts tend to over-analyze and after a networking event you may be worried about how you may have messed up. If you did make a small mistake, like talking too fast at one point or pausing too long to answer a question, chances are nobody noticed or took note of it. You should congratulate yourself on having gone through a successful networking event and rejoice that it’s over. As far as following up with your new networking contacts after an event, that’s a topic for another article.
Fellow introverts, how do you succeed at networking events? I imagine preparation is key but is there any other advice you would like to share? You’ll find the comments section below!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Jen SFO-BCN