How to Be an Introverted Networker and Still Have Fun
Imagine entering a room filled with strangers, conversing and exchanging business cards. For many of us, that can be an overwhelming and nerve-wracking experience. Networking, an essential aspect of professional growth, can feel daunting, especially for introverts.
Engaging in small talk and superficial interactions is draining as an introvert. You prefer meaningful connections but might struggle to initiate conversations in large gatherings. Rest assured, you're not alone, as many introverts face these same challenges, which can lead to missed opportunities and feeling disconnected from the professional world. Here's how to ace your next networking event, even if you're an introvert.
1) Prepare yourself for in-person events
Go through the steps below and consider your answers to these questions:
- Set attainable goals. What do you hope to achieve by attending the event? Do you want to make new connections, learn about new opportunities, or simply get out of your comfort zone?
- Do your research. Who will be at the event? What are the topics that will be discussed? The more you know, the better prepared you will be.
- Devise a strategic plan. How will you introduce yourself? What questions will you ask? What talking points will you have ready?
2) Connect with others one-on-one
Introverts can be exceptional networkers when they harness their unique strengths. They are naturally good listeners, empathetic, and have a deep understanding of others. These qualities allow them to forge more genuine connections with people. Introverts should recognise these attributes as superpowers and leverage them to build lasting relationships.
One-on-one or small group settings are ideal for introverts to network. In these settings, introverts can focus on quality interactions and genuinely connect with others. By connecting with others one-on-one, introverts can build trust and rapport, which is essential for successful networking.
Here's a personal example of how I feel when talking to someone one-on-one compared to being in a big group:
I am an introvert, and it is much easier to talk to someone one-on-one than in a big group. In a group, I feel like I have to compete for attention and always worry about saying the wrong thing. But when talking to someone one-on-one, I can relax and focus on the conversation. I can also ask more questions and learn more about the other person.
3) Consider online networking
The digital age is a relief for introverts in the form of online networking platforms. Social media and professional platforms like LinkedIn provide the perfect space to connect with others at your own pace. Through thoughtfully crafted messages, you can express yourself better and find like-minded professionals without the pressure of face-to-face interactions.
Here are some specific ways that online networking can be helpful for introverts:
- It can be done at your own pace. You don't have to feel pressured to talk to people right away. You can read profiles, send messages, and connect with interesting people.
- It can be done in a comfortable environment. You can network from home or from anywhere else that you feel comfortable. You don't have to worry about dressing up or putting on a facade.
- It can be done without the pressure of face-to-face interactions. You can still network online if you're uncomfortable talking to people in person. You can express yourself through messages and build relationships without ever meeting face-to-face.
Of course, online networking is not a replacement for face-to-face networking. But it can be a great way for introverts to connect with others and build their professional network.
Small changes lead to significant growth
Networking can be daunting for introverts, but it is essential for professional growth. Remember, networking is not about being the life of the party or making many connections in one night. It's about building genuine relationships with people who can help you achieve your career goals.