Everyone knows how important it is to make connections with other professionals when you’re looking for a new job, especially at networking events. But what if you’re like me, a wallflower who shies away from small talk and interacting with strangers?
Never fear, introverts of the world. You, too, can find success through networking. It just takes some practice. Here are my tips for introverted networking:
Take some “me” time. If you’re an introvert, you know it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy, just that you need to recharge before and after social engagements. When planning to attend a networking event, schedule some time before and after the event for solitude. I usually make sure the evening before involves solo activities such as rock climbing or sewing. Then I have some quiet time to recharge my social circuits.
Stay focused. Especially at busy events, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the many conversations and activities going on. Try not to get discouraged if you find your mind drifting to other conversations nearby. You can either try to reengage your thoughts in the current discussion, or excuse yourself to join another that may be of more interest.
Don’t know what to say? Let others do the talking. Let’s be honest, most networking events are full of people eager to tell you about their work experience or side projects. As an introvert, you can take advantage of this by asking questions to start conversations and keep them going without the anxiety of feeling like you’re on stage talking about yourself.
Go to the same networking events consistently . This increases your chances of running into familiar faces, which will help you feel more comfortable over time. Remember that the goal is to make connections with people, and that can take time. This isn’t a job interview – it’s about building professional relationships.
Get out of your comfort zone , but remember that you don’t have to talk to everybody at the event. In fact, doing so means you’re less likely to truly connect with attendees. Quality always over quantity, especially when it comes to people.
Be kind to yourself . You’re might feel uncomfortable, but I guarantee you won’t be the only one. Everybody is there to meet people, so don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation. If you need to leave early, don’t be too hard on yourself—but be sure to go back another time, because it really does get easier the more often you go!