We all know how important networking is when it comes to advancing our careers. And if you’re one of those people who can chat up a storm with anybody and everybody, it’s probably something you intuitively do without giving it too much thought. However, if you happen to be an introvert, networking may not come quite so naturally. For those who don’t know, an introvert is someone who enjoys spending time alone and can become quite drained in large social gatherings. There’s a bit of a misconception that introverts are loners, shy, passive or socially awkward but this is not always the case. They do, however, tend to be a bit reserved and introspective (read: deep thinkers). On the other hand, extroverts are generally very outgoing and thrive in lively social situations.
Of course, not everyone is one or the other. There’s a spectrum and most people fall somewhere in the middle. However, if the thought of striking up a conversation with a bunch of strangers is enough to incite terror, you’re probably closer to the introvert side. But that doesn’t mean you have to accept that networking just isn’t for you. It doesn’t actually have to be this terrifying thing that makes you wish you were at home eating chips under your doona. It’s simply a matter of making networking work for you. Here’s how.
1. Choose your location wisely
Introverts tend to be quite sensitive to the energy of the people around them — which may be why they find large social gatherings so draining. So, it makes sense that massive networking events are not only going to be more exhausting, but more daunting too. For this reason, you’re better of sticking to more intimate and casual events. If you’re still feeling intimidated, you could always bring a like-minded friend or colleague along with you. Just make sure you don’t end up sticking with them the entire time as you won’t end up networking at all! Check out this article for some great, non-threatening networking events coming up around Australia.
2. Do your homework
You know the saying: failing to prepare means preparing to fail! We’re not saying you’re going to fall flat on your face if you start talking to someone without having rehearsed what you’re doing to say. But we guarantee you’ll feel a lot more confident and in control if you’ve done a bit of research and preparation before you go. See if there’s a way you can find out who’s going (like the ‘attending’ list on Facebook) and pinpoint a few people you’d like to speak to. Then, have a think about a few different ways you could approach them — as well as how you’re going to introduce yourself and your business. You could even do some power posing before hand to get into the right frame of mind!
3. Shift the focus
There’s a reason so many of the world’s most successful people (think Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and JK Rowling) are introverts. While they may not be the loudest, most outgoing people in the room, they have other, extremely valuable strengths — like being great listeners. Find someone you want to network with and if you can, chat to them one on one. Ask plenty of questions and listen more than you talk. Not only will this take the focus off you and make you feel more comfortable, it’ll allow you to really pay attention to what they’re saying. Then, you can use that information to guide what you’re going to say when you’re (subtly) telling them how awesome you are.