This article provides a series of tips and strategies designed to help people who identify as introverts navigate the obstacles of networking. It is ideal for any career, lifestyle, or business-orientated site or blog.
In many fields and industries, networking is crucial to achieving success. But it can also pose a challenge for those who identify as introverts, as making small talk, meeting strangers, and dealing with large groups can be mentally and physically draining for such people.
But if you’re an introvert, you needn’t miss out on the benefits that come with networking. And here, we’ll identify several strategies and tips you can utilize to ensure your networking efforts are still successful.
Why Networking is Important for Introverts
Networking with professionals in your industry is helpful for many reasons. It can help you gain new insights, access job opportunities, and find the support you need to navigate your career.
While it can be intimidating, networking is arguably even more valuable for introverts than for those more extroverted. That’s because it can help to close the career-impeding social gaps that introverts are more likely to develop.
Let’s look at the various strategies that can make networking tasks more manageable.
5 Strategies for Networking as an Introvert
1. Consider Alternative Forms of Networking
For some, networking in person can feel overwhelming. But thankfully, with online communications more prominent than ever, you can still build your rapport without leaving the comfort of your own home. Social media, websites, and email are all valuable tools for meeting and staying in touch with contacts. At the same time, webinars and online conferences can help you extend your professional reach.
Of course, the internet shouldn’t be an excuse not to network in person. But if large conferences and speaking engagements aren’t to your liking, you may find a smaller group or one-to-one environment more manageable and productive. With that in mind, consider inviting a contact for an informal coffee or lunch or hosting a smaller group gathering.
2. Find a Networking Partner
While alternatives exist, you shouldn’t feel barred from attending more significant events if you are introverted. And one strategy you can utilize to alleviate the stress of larger events is to find a networking partner.
A networking partner is a friend or colleague you can trust to support you during a networking event. Preferably they will be someone more extroverted in nature that can help facilitate group conversations. But in any case, having someone you know nearby might be all you need to make you feel more confident about communicating with strangers.
3. Prepare Beforehand
Sometimes introverts may struggle to accurately communicate who they are and what they do or start conversations with new people. If this is you, then preparing yourself beforehand can be the key to successful networking.
You may, for instance, consider rehearsing an elevator pitch about your work. Or you might prepare some conversation starters or identify key talking points you bring up. It can also be helpful to make a mental list of the people you want to talk to at an event. Also, consider how you might retreat from an event should things become overwhelming. For example, you could schedule a 10-minute solo coffee break beforehand to give yourself a chance to recharge.
4. Use Your Introversion to Your Advantage
The probability is that, as an introvert, you will make fewer connections than an extrovert does. But you can use your introverted nature to your advantage if you focus on the quality instead of the number of contacts you make. And the worst thing you can do is try and be something you’re not. Doing so will only make you appear insincere.
Everyone tends to think that what they say leaves the best impression at social gatherings. However, showing genuine interest in someone and listening will go just as far in ensuring people remember you. So long as you come armed with some interesting questions for the right people, you can let others do the bulk of the talking while still building vital connections.
5. Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Let’s say you’ve used the tips above and had a successful networking event that earned you several crucial new connections. Understandably, in this scenario, you’ll still feel a little drained and need a break from all the socializing. However, it’s important to remember that what you do after a networking event is equally important as what you do during one.
The last thing you want is to overcome social anxieties only to have your hard work go to waste. Don’t forget to follow up with any new contacts you’ve made in the days following any networking. That might mean following their social media profiles or sending an email.
Not everyone who considers themselves introverted will have the same struggles or social anxieties. And how you approach networking will depend on your circumstances. However, if you have the right mindset and determination and utilize the strategies outlined here, there’s no reason you can’t network as successfully as anyone else.
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