Networking is hard work for introverts. It requires them to put themselves out there – to introduce themselves, get a conversation started and work the room. Here are some tips on how to improve those networking skills. Here is your guide, bible, little black book on Networking for introverts: a guide to getting it right!
Unlike extroverts, who gain energy by being around people, networking is uncomfortable for most introverts. This isn’t because they are socially inept or prefer cats to humans (as the internet would like us to believe), but because they require “alone time” to recharge their batteries.
The good news is being an introvert doesn’t affect your ability to network and connect with others. It can, however, affect your attitude towards it. We suggest looking at networking as an opportunity rather than seeing it as an obstacle. Introverts don’t need to be boxed in by personality, but use it as a superpower.
Networking for introverts: How do you break the ice?
If you are struggling to connect or lead when you walk into a room, consider why you want to be in the room in the first place. Let the purpose for being in the room draw you in, rather than allowing the discomfort to keep you out. Think about the value you can offer to people. Ask yourself a few questions: what problems do you solve? What questions do you answer? How can you help people? When you focus on these questions, all unwanted thoughts and self-doubt will stay out of your head.
There is a misconception that introverts need to “come out of their shell” for networking events. Arguably introverts should be encouraged to invite others into the shell. There is a lot other people can learn when we are vulnerable enough to let others in. One of the remarkable characteristics of introverts is their ability to think deeply on a subject and their strengths, such as listening. In fact, inviting others into that deep thinking should be encouraged.
Go in with a plan
Having a plan is key to networking successfully! As you head into a large event or a conference, have a plan of who you want to talk to and what you want to get out of the day. For smaller events and coffee catch-ups, a more intimate and relational approach is called for. For instance Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce regularly host casual B2B Brews sessions and after work drinks where this more relaxed relational approach is suited.
Spend a few minutes thinking through what the end goal of the conversation will be, and even prepare an introductory sentence.
A key rule of networking is to avoid controversial topics such as religion, politics or money. Avoid gossip – any topic that could be construed as gossip is only going to hurt your network, not help it.
Be in control of communication
There is really no difference between an introvert and an extrovert when you put them on a stage. For introverts, however, there is an advantage in public speaking. One of the biggest fear factors of communication for introverts is being put on the spot. With public speaking, you are in control of what happens.
Whether it is a welcome speech or a short introduction, practise your talk before you hit the stage. Prepare well, know your content and your audience!
Introverts can lead the room with ease by trying these tips:
1. Know yourself
In order to be your authentic self, spend time learning about yourself and working out the best way to express your personality.
2. Calm your nerves
A few simple mindfulness exercises can help you relax before big events.
3. Be intentional
When initiating a conversation, don’t just think about how you can make your introduction short, think about the message you want to convey.
4. Play to your strengths
Listen, observe and learn from people in the room.
5. Bring a supporter
If you need to, take a friend or colleague with you for support.
The Team at DGL love meeting new people and connecting with familiar faces, so if you see one of our crew at these networking events in future – be sure to introduce yourself!