I was listening to a podcast the other day and heard these great tips on Introverted Networking. You know if you’re one of those introverts if the thought of going to a networking event makes your skin crawl. But there’s a range of introverted to extroverted tendencies so for some introverts, networking doesn’t happen unless it’s 1-on-1 or in very small groups (like 2-3 people). And then there are introverts who can go to a networking event but feel really out of place and not sure what to do. Often, an introvert will leave early to avoid the discomfort.
Here were my favorite tips from Sophia Dembling on Introverted Networking:
- Call on your inner extrovert – everyone has a little bit inside them. For introverts, it’s important to muster up that small amount of extrovert by remembering a time when you were outgoing at an event. It might have been at a party with close friends or a work event. Use this memory to dig in to the feelings of being okay in a larger group and chatting and socializing with others
- Be selective about which event you go to – is it a cocktail party? Speed networking? Intimate gathering? Industry association meeting? Will you be seated at a table? Will you be standing and moving around the room? Know in advance what type of event it is and choose the ones that you are most comfortable with. For example, an association event where you come in a little bit later (after the normal networking) and sit at a table to listen to a speaker with 5 -10 other people might be easier than 100 people at a cocktail reception
- Take your time to warm up – give yourself time to talk to one person or two people before moving on to chatting with more. Have the intimate conversations with a handful of others and then push yourself later in the evening to meet even more people
- Schedule time for yourself before and after the event – allow yourself time to get mentally prepared for the event you’re attending and get your mind and body used to the idea before heading out. Rehearse in your mind positive interactions with others that are comfortable for you and then imagine pushing yourself just a little bit further. After the event, make sure you have time to unwind, bring your focus back to restoring your energy and normalize
- Don’t get caught – as an introvert, extroverts love to chat with you because you listen and you listen deeply. An extrovert can catch you and not let you go if you’re not careful. Have a planned strategy of how you can get out of extroverted, one-way conversations. You can get another drink, see a friend you need to say hello to or just excuse yourself to the restroom
The important part is the connect with others in a way that is deep and meaningful for you. Are you ready for your next networking event?