A lot of times, as an introvert, you can feel like you're on the outside looking in. It can feel that certain things are unattainable because of your desire for solitude. Like many people in the world, I'm an introvert through and through. Sometimes, that can make networking a little harder. It can be draining. Introverts value peace and familiar settings, and networking is all about reaching beyond your comfort zone and meeting new people. That can get pretty terrifying if you ask me.
As an introvert, often times big groups of people or parties aren't really my thing. I can easily feel nervous, at a loss for words, or even exhausted by my surroundings. Even when I'm in good company. It's not particularly a problem in my life, but sometimes I have to give myself an extra push to get out and about. I'm sure many of you can relate to that.
Even in my introverted state, I have found ways of coping with this necessary evil.
Here are my 8 Networking Tips for Introverts:
1. If you can, bring a friend - Some networking events will likely prove fun for you and a friend, and by all means, bring a plus one if the event expressly allows you to bring one. This will give you the opportunity to feel more comfortable and might even help you feel more chatty around others. Plus, your friend might have a great time as well, so it's a win-win! Just be sure to be open to conversation with others and keep networking in mind.
2. Show up early - If you can, make a point to show up early. While this may involve some standing around and initial itchiness, it will give the hosts of the event a chance to introduce themselves and explain the goings-on of the event. That way, you'll appear "in the know" to the other guests, will have more time to get comfortable, and may even get more actual one-on-one networking done in the process!
3. Wear what you're comfortable in - Don't force yourself into a miniskirt and sky-high stilletos if that's not something you would normally wear. Even if it's a black tie event, make sure you feel comfortable in what you're wearing. The more comfortable you feel, the more likely you will be relaxed and open to others.
4. Add a statement piece - Though you want to be comfortable, wearing something more "daring" or a statement piece is a good idea. Pick something that is distinctly you, as a statement piece that could act as a conversation starter. This could be a particular color you wear, a unique piece of jewelry, an accessory, or even a bold lip. If there's something about you that stands out, people are likely to remember you. That may sound superficial, but it really works. I've been remembered as "the girl in the red lipstick" before.
5. Use your existing network - Like tip number one, don't be afraid to use your friends. Go to some of their networking events with them if you can. Plan meetups with your professional friends and ask them to bring a guest or two. A dinner party or a night playing boardgames could easily turn into a group of new friends or even new business contacts.
6. Ask plenty of questions - Being an introvert, sometimes you won't be in the mood to spend the night talking. That's where the questions come in. Ask questions and you'll appear genuinely interested, and may even find out that you have things in common with someone. What's not to love about that!
7. Hold something - This may sound like a weird tip, but having something in your hands will likely put you at ease. That's why event and party hosts will often give you a drink or some snacks (that and because drinking will loosen the mood, haha.) With something in your hands, you're less likely to be fidgety or actually worry about what to do with your hands. It soothes body language. No more nervous jitters for you.
8. Follow up - Likely you met someone really cool at the event and you'll want to reach out to them to further the relationship. Even if you didn't spend that much time talking to them, don't hesitate to do it! How sweet is it to get an email from someone you met saying they enjoyed meeting you? Be the person that sends that email! 9 times out of 10, you'll have made a new friend or contact!
- The follow up window - I usually try to send an email thanking the hosts and reaching out to any new people I met within two days of the event. Some people think emailing the next day is "too soon" but that's all up to personal preference. Just make sure you're not reaching out too many days after the event. I'd say once you're hitting the week mark, it's too late and everyone has already forgotten the event. Don't miss the window!
When all else fails - RUN!
There's no shame in fleeing the scene, just make sure you have your excuse ready. Who am I kidding, we introverts always have an excuse ready.
What are your tips for networking?
Do you think networking is harder for introverts?
I'd love to hear the extrovert perspective!