I’ve been an introvert most of my life. I was always the one who had limited friends in school and was, often, considered arrogant (that was more to with my being a topper and less to do with my nature). In that age group, we were not mature enough to understand the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” beyond their dictionary meanings. And when I was awakened to reality in my college days, I worked hard to change myself into what I am today: “Ambivert”.
Even today, I am not close to calling myself an extrovert. Yet, I am a full-time blogger. I interview people for my blog and networking is very much a part of my business goals.
How do I manage?
Especially, when I find myself least comfortable when surrounded by large crowds.
The truth is networking has nothing much to do with your being an outgoing person or your introvert nature. It does help when you’re an extrovert but that doesn’t mean introverts are at any loss.
It might be little difficult for introverts given that “networking” certainly requires you to attend professional events. Nothing more than that! Believe me, it’s just about pushing yourself to an event and once you’re there you’ll be as good as an extrovert. It’s because introverts are, generally, blessed with excellent listening skills.
Scroll down to find a list of tricks (based out of my experience) that will help you network better, connect with people whom you really want to and build long-lasting relationships:
1. Get There Before the Time
Is it hard for you to initiate conversation with strangers when almost everyone else at the event is engaged in conversation?
Do you find it difficult to build connections when the place is too crowded?
The trick is to reach there early and start talking when there are not too many people. Not only you’ll feel much more comfortable but also everyone else will more be inclined in talking to you.
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2. Never Force Yourself
Don’t force yourself into becoming someone you’re not. You don’t have to push yourself to talk. Even, you don’t have to make any effort to sound smart. Just be yourself!
It is perfectly alright to work on the sidelines. Why do you even wish to steal the spotlight? It’s not important at all. Your key objective is to network with people in your profession and not to impress everyone out there.
If you’re person who doesn’t like talking much, it is even better because it gives you a chance to listen to other people with much more attention. It will be of great help to you when you write a follow-up email as you’ll have concrete stuff to talk about.
3. Give Yourself a Break
There is no need to talk more and more. In fact, the results will be much better when you start taking breaks between conversations. Allow yourself some time to relax and get back into the mood. A washroom or snack break always does wonder for me!
4. Prepare Ahead of Time
When you already know that you find it difficult to engage people for a longer time, preparing a few questions in advance can help you. By asking questions about their business, organization, and work; you can avoid all those moments of awkward silence.
You can also try to get the list of attendees in advance. It will make it easier for you to prepare questions and topics of discussion in advance.
Also, you need to be very clear with your objective of attending the event. Consider setting a goal or two for yourself. But make sure the goals you set are realistic and don’t leave the event before you accomplish them.
5. Look out for your Support System
Remember, you’re not going to be the only introvert there. There are going to be much more people like you. And there will be many who will be much more scared than you. By making an effort to find people similar to you, you tend to increase your comfort level and at the same time, you network with new people.
6. Network Online
In today’s age of digitization, when almost every you would want to connect to is present on social media or LinkedIn; why do you have to restrict yourself only to networking events?
The online networks offer excellent platforms for networking especially for people like us who are not extroverts. Write to your new connections how you can help them in their work and you’ll be amazed to see their response.
7. Make an Early Exit
This is something that has worked amazingly well for me all the time.
Spend an hour or so and you’ll find things to be more bearable than you initially thought them to be. In case you’re enjoying the events, you always have an option to stay until late.
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