When it comes to business and career advancement, we're living in an extrovert's world. This is especially true when you're looking at the more social aspects of success in the business world such as networking. For many of us, particularly introverts, networking can be challenging as most of them are uncomfortable with big crowds and huge amount of interactions with strangers. With all that said, there are still plenty of traits common to introverts that helps set them up for their victories as well. Introverts will have no problem making the most of a networking with a correct preparation.
If you're not sure yet which group you're in, give yourself a try on this personality check. Head over to 16 Personalities and drop us a comment below which type are you!
So if you are an introvert, how do you nail a networking event? Here's a bit of know-how for you introvert babies;
First of all, plan ahead of time. Most of introverts are naturally good at planning and preparation. It place to their advantage when it comes to network. Spend a little time ironing out the finer details such as how you will open conversations or your goals for those conversations and what questions you intend to ask. Also, take a little time for mentally preparing yourself for the event and getting in the right frame of mind. Advanced preparation such as these will go along way to make sure you're on top of your social game.
Take a Buddy with You
Find a buddy to go with you. Sticking close to your buddy who you're comfortable with leads a great way to ease your nerves a little especially if you friend is an extrovert and you can rely on them to fill gaps in the conversation. Feed off their energy and bounce your own remarks off of theirs and retreat back and talk to them one-on-one. You will likely find that it is much more comfortable for you than going it alone.
Putting a Smile on Your Face Won't Harm
Next, a smile is the most useful social tools humans have. It can be used to disarm people and put them at calm in a matter of seconds, giving them a positive impression of you before you ever say a word. Introverts are often guilty of not making use of their smile and eye contact as much as extroverts. Though, with a little focus, a warm, friendly smile is a trait that is incredibly easy to adopt.
Before you ever arrive at the event, you should list or set goals for who you want to meet and what you hope to gain and accomplish through those interactions. Keeping the goals on top of your mind and treat networking as a must-task to accomplish those goals, it will strengthen your resolve and help push past any shyness or awkwardness which may otherwise hold you back.
You're Always Being Welcomed
Always think of yourself as being welcome wherever you go, just remember that everyone at a networking event is there for the same reason as yours and also probably a portion of them are uncomfortable and nervous as well. With that in mind, think of how incredibly grateful they will be if you're the one that walks up to them and starts the conversation. Most introverts have a tendency to think that others will view them negatively if they aren't socializing constantly. Yet, nothing is further from the truth while at a networking event.
Stay in the Moment
Well now you have an engaging conversation with someone, it's crucial to be present in that conversation rather than strategizing and targeting the next person you plan to approach. Keep your focus in the moment. On the conversation at hand, ask people questions and to even what they have to say. You may start off with "What do you hope to get out of this?" or "What cool stuff are you working on right now". Worst case, just say "What brings you here?" and revolve from that. And if you stay focused on one conversation passionately, the person will likely notice and appreciate the attention and interest.
Pick the Right Event
Of course the right event is not a waste of time and money. There are some events which are more comfortable to introverts. Introverts will likely find striking up conversations a lot easier within a small relaxed event compared to an event with 500 people in attendance, for example. An event with "Networking" in the title not necessarily define its reality, perhaps, if you go to any other events - such as leadership programs, trade shows, conferences or even your gym community club - the chances of establishing a strong relationship are higher. Go to events that have a similar interest but is not just pure networking event and there's something else going on so you can get the best of both worlds!
Above all, networking places a lot of value in making connections with people and having conversations while getting to know others and their backgrounds or success stories. Well, try to go to as many events that you can and meet a lot of people while practising networking which is outside of your comfort zone. You can browse Meetup.com, Eventbrite.com, and many more to keep updated with upcoming events near you. Remember, just because you're not a natural extrovert does not mean that you are prohibited from going to social events and handling it like a networking pro.