Networking 101 for Introverts
You know that feeling of panic when it creeps up on you. You begin to shake. Your palms are sweaty. Not all introverts are socially anxious, but it is a fairly common trait, and it can make networking very difficult. When you feel like you need to run, but you can’t, it can make any crowd seem claustrophobic. So what do you do when you need to network in order to help advance your own career? There are some tips that can help you network while introverted.
- Meet people anywhere. You can start small and develop your networking skills overtime. You don’t have to go to a crowded industry event to engage with people. Start in your own community. Say hi to the person next to you at the coffee shop. Strike up a conversation with someone in line. Once you become more comfortable doing these small steps, it will be easier to go to events.
- Ask a friend to join you. Sometimes, having a familiar face to turn to can help immensely in the process. Bring along a trusted friend so you have someone you can talk to without feeling anxious. They can also help you introduce yourself to the new people you meet. It can be a great boost of confidence to have a partner in an uncomfortable situation.
- Create a plan. Before you go to a networking event, create a plan. You don’t have to wing it. If you know who is going to be there, try to determine which people you want to meet the most. Challenge yourself to walk away from the event with at least 5 new contacts and get their business cards. Make it a game, like Pokemon Go, to collect them all.
- Reach out online. Today’s connected world makes is easy to network without ever being face to face with the other person. While in-person interactions are still important and encouraged, you can start out by introducing yourself online. Some people are better at writing than speaking, so use your own strengths. Reach out to people in your community or industry on LinkedIn. Follow thought leaders on Twitter. Make good use of social media in your career.