Do you shy away from the noisy, crowded environments that your co-workers seem to love? Are you overwhelmed when prodded to mingle in a large crowd? Welcome to the world of extroverted networking expectations.
Networking doesn’t have to be painful, paralyzing or petrifying. But it may be if you try to fit into a mold that isn’t you. The key is to recognize that being an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t network. It simply means you connect both socially and professionally with people in different ways. If you find an approach that works with your personality and comfort level, you too can benefit from networking opportunities.
Consider these networking tips for introverts:
- Start small
Choose to attend the smallest group setting of the networking opportunities available. Tackle one event at a time, focusing only on the present. Banish nerve-wracking thoughts of next month’s multi-company mixer or the huge year-end shindig.
Rehearse small talk and conversation starters with a friend who can also walk you through some Q and A scenarios. Jot some notes on an index card and slip it into your pocket. With practice, you can learn to steer conversations. Additionally, feeling prepared will ease the fear and anxiety climbing up your throat.
- Allow yourself time to recover
Recognize the need to recharge between meetings or events. Unlike extroverts who thrive on back-to-back networking events, you’ll drain your people-battery fast by connecting events too close together.
- Connect online ahead of time
Making contact online before the upcoming meeting with a bit of email or Facebook back and forth will ease the “complete stranger” fears. It’s especially helpful to be able to match a name with a face, thereby eliminating those panicked moments of trying to determine which of the fifty mingling people is your contact.
- Take down the details
Make the most of this event you convinced yourself to attend by saving the details for future reference. On the back of the index card in your pocket or on your phone, note details about the person and the conversation. This will help eliminate, or at least reduce, worrying about remembering who said/did what.
- Take the reins and set-up your own events
If you prefer minimally stimulating events over loud, crowded settings, then take the planning into your own hands. A meeting over lunch, a small dinner party, even an afternoon coffee break “chat session” can provide you with networking opportunities that don’t send your pulse racing.
Professional interactions don’t have to be torture. Discover what works for you, personally, and reclaim the benefits of networking.
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