[Tweet “”It’s a common misconception that introverts can’t voice their thoughts as well as extroverts can.” @MelyssaMoniz”]
Networking can be daunting to the most extroverted of people. Throwing yourself into an unfamiliar situation, sometimes alone, can be nerve-wracking. It can distract you and make you focus on things like whether people are looking at you, if they like you, if they’re judging you, or if you’re saying the wrong things. We all struggle with introducing ourselves to strangers, but introverts may sometimes have more difficulty.
I recently had an amazing talk with Live Your Passion Mentor & Author, Melyssa Moniz, about this issue. What advice would we give to introverts who may not feel that they fit into a busy social situation such as networking? Introverted or not, networking is one of the best ways to get yourself out there, gain valuable connections, and learn more about the opportunities available to you.
Are you an introvert? If so, here are 5 ways that you can conquer your next networking event!
1. Arrive early.
Networking is something that you may have to warm up to. If you arrive when the event is in full swing, you could find yourself in an intimidating crowd of hundreds of networkers. Do your best to arrive early when there are fewer people at the venue. Some introverts may feel more comfortable in a smaller group or even a one-on-one – if this sounds like you, do yourself a favour and get there before everyone else does so that you can mentally prepare yourself for when the crowds come.
2. Network with a buddy.
Whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in between, you’ll always be more comfortable when you’re with a familiar face who you can count on! Invite a close friend or two to help keep the conversation going and maximize your experience. Before you get the event, meet with your buddy and do some strategizing. Plan ahead on details like how you are going to give each other glowing introductions – the best way to impress is to have someone else talk about how awesome you are! You should be able to describe your buddy’s character, name interesting facts about them, and list a proud accomplishments or two.
3. Compile a list of questions.
You prepare for a presentation, you prepare for interviews, and you prepare for exams. So, why not prepare for networking? The more you prepare, the more comfortable you’ll feel in your own skin. Compile a list of questions and then do some rehearsals in your head. Visualize the amazing conversation you’re going to have with your networking partner and how much you’re going to take away from the event!
4. Be present and be curious.
Nerves can sometimes make networkers think ahead to the next question they’re going to ask instead of paying attention to what’s happening in their conversation. Be present, stay focused, and really listen to what others are saying. What people admire most in others isn’t their ability to dominate a room, it’s the skill of being able to genuinely connect with another person. Introvert or extrovert, this can be easily accomplished by demonstrating that you are truly interested in the person you’re talking to. Ask them about their career, education, industry, challenges – whatever piques your curiosity!
5. Talk about subjects that you’re passionate about.
[Tweet ““There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.” @susancain “]
When I think about amazing presenters who also happen to be introverts, I immediately think of Susan Cain. She regularly delivers incredible, captivating presentations on the power of introverts. If you haven’t watched her present yet, click here and here. If you have, you’ll notice that two things stand out: her preparation, and her passion. She is genuinely passionate about what she’s talking about it, and it shows. This is the key: you will become more engaging and interesting if you have the courage to talk about what makes you tick, what you’re passionate about, and what impact you want to make on the world. This isn’t selfish, it’s authentic. Having that authenticity is what will separate you from a crowd of people trying to be something they’re not. Speak from the heart and people will listen.
If you want to learn more about Susan Cain, she also has a best-selling book called QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, that you can purchase here. Visit her website to learn more!
Here’s one last tip for you: if you’re feeling reluctant before the event, do what you can to change your perspective. Change your mindset to change your life! Instead of thinking about how you need to SELL yourself, think about how you can HELP others. Above all, networking is about building relationships and developing meaningful connections. The best way to do that is to find out how you can offer your expertise or support so that you can serve others.
What are some concerns you struggle with as an introvert trying to networking effectively? Let me know in the comments section and I’ll answer your questions!