A successful career isn’t something that just comes randomly, overnight and with no effort. Not only do you have to be an expert, but you need to also be good with people, both at and outside the workplace. All the skills and know-how in the world won’t get you anywhere if you don’t establish relationships. Networking is a key factor for our career evolution.
Industry meetings and events are excellent opportunities to build new relationships and to be informed about the latest trends and happenings of the industry.
Meeting new people comes in handy for extroverts who recharge when interacting with others and lose their energy when spending time alone. But what about introverts? Their “batteries” recharge when spending time alone, and they lose energy when interacting with others. Socialization is not as easy for them, as it involves more effort. Let’s see several tips for introverts when participating at industry or other types of events.
14 Networking Tips for Introverts to Get Connected and Get Ahead
Everyone shines, given the right lighting.
– Susan Cain
1. Connect with people before the event
One great way for introverts to approach an event is to look up some people beforehand and contact them via e-mail after doing some brief research about them. Look for their passions, experience or work information and find a common ground. However, always stay true to your goals and yourself. People can sense when you’re being fake. Connecting online with people prior to the event can make you feel more comfortable when you arrive there. It can also help you discover new events that you may be of interest for you.
2. Adapt your approach
Always take into the account the type of event and the purpose of the attendees there. Adapt your topics and attitude according to the event.
3. Set goals
Before attending an event, it would be a good idea to think about what you want to find and learn there and what kind of persons are you expecting to meet there. Think of a few questions you want to ask the people you’ll be meeting. Try to find out some details about their careers, passions or any other topic that you can talk about.
To get quick and effective results, it is recommended to set clear goals and follow them. For example, you can choose several events to attend and put all efforts into making at least three new connections at each of them. You could start by taking part in Q&A sessions, even though you don’t feel comfortable with the idea. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
4. Plan your time
When going to an event, plan your time carefully so you can arrive early and talk with people before the event has actually started. This way, you can identify and select people to talk to and start a conversation with a smaller groups of people.
5. Invite someone along
A good idea is to take a colleague or a friend with you. Their company will make you feel more comfortable and less stressed when discussing with others.
6. Be present
Initiate short conversations with many people, and keep the more in-depth ones for the few people that actually interest you. Get their contact and build a relationship via e-mail or social media. You can smile and show openness so others can feel comfortable to approach you. Thinking too much about what to say when you first interact with someone new may be stressful. It is not necessary to find something very clever — first interactions are all about small talk and casual topics.
Instead, make sure that you’ll remember exactly who your new connections are. You can take some notes so you can contact them after the event. Try to be focused on your partner’s speech and let the discussion flow by itself. Stay relaxed and keep the good vibe; the rest will come naturally.
7. Take a solo break and recharge
If you feel your energy is very low, take a break and enjoy some solitude. Going outside to talk on your phone or take a quick toilet break will buy you some alone time. It’s okay to be by yourself, even at big networking events. Don’t overdo it, though.
8. Focus on your strengths as an introvert
Introverts are great listeners. You absolutely don’t like small talk, but that’s okay. Networking is about connecting with people, and you do that better through meaningful conversations. Use your listening skills to your advantage and the person that just told you his or her life story will definitely enjoy your company.
9. Quality is the key
Look for quality, not for quantity, and try to establish a connection. Find one or two people that you really like instead of aimlessly talking with everyone that you see. If you’ve spotted someone that you or your business could benefit from and you feel that you can also provide value for them, then they should be your one of your main focuses for the day. Make sure you grab their contact.
As an introvert, you can better empathize with others, so use it when socializing. Also, don’t forget that there are other people in the room who also don’t feel as comfortable socializing with others. Odds are that there are other introverts around that are going through the same things you are.
11. Talk about yourself
Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself, reveal your skills, plans and accomplishments. The person in front of you may be interested in these topics and your connection will be deeper.
12. Share knowledge and connections
Choose topics related to your industry or simply ask people about their work or goals. Feel free to share your knowledge or connections if it is the case. This will help make the relationship stronger. Always think about how you can provide value to the other person.
13. Focus on the positive aspects
Overthinking has always been a challenge, right? You might have stuttered, said a bad joke that left everyone silent, or spilt coffee on a random person. These things don’t matter as long as they didn’t hinder your overall goal, which is to establish useful connections. After the event, don’t think too much about how the discussions went, about your reactions or responses and so on. Focus on the positive aspects and find a way to improve your future performance or choices.
14. Follow up
It’s important to keep the momentum and contact the person that you wish to collaborate with no later than a few days after you met. Don’t let your connections go cold. You did attend a networking event and that cost you time. It would be a shame to let your efforts go to waste.
Networking doesn’t have fixed rules, and you can go beyond what’s expected. Of course, manners and etiquette are important, but authenticity is viewed with admiration nowadays. Be your honest self, say what you think, know what you want, listen carefully and you’ll be great.