So many of us avoid networking like the plague, worried that we won’t have anything to say or that people won’t want to talk to us. The reality is it can feel uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. You might have a clear idea of what a good networker looks like; they’re working the room, always laughing, always engaged. But let me tell you the most effective networking doesn’t look or feel like networking.
The key to success here is knowing where you’re comfortable. Do you prefer big groups or one-on-one? Where and when do you feel comfortable? Perhaps you prefer connecting virtually?
Once you know that you can create networking opportunities to suit you. The happier you are the better things will go; this is a situation where you can’t really fake it till you make it.
If you are an introvert, it’s important to listen to your own rhythms, pay attention to what makes you comfortable. Here are some tips to foster a successful introverted networking style.
Arrive Early – Inevitably, everyone is a little lost at the start of an event. It’s easier to find someone to chat with when the room is not yet crowded, because everyone is on the hunt for someone to chat to. Then throughout the night, those early conversations become familiar faces, making it easier to approach larger groups.
Stay Late – The end of the event is often a relaxed time to connect. You’re all warmed up and the energy in the room has calmed. You’ve also got an easy out for ending new conversations, stress-free.
Volunteer – Having a job means you’ll never be awkwardly waiting for someone to say the next thing; you’ll have a purpose and permission to talk with people.
Take A Break – This is vital if you want to stay engaged and friendly throughout an event. Step out for some air or a bathroom break to give yourself the time needed to recharge and return ready to connect.
Connectors do not need to be extroverts! Introverts can be amazing connectors, making people feel heard and connecting with their full attention with the person in front of them.