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A smiling woman looks back at the camera as she prepares to join a networking event.

Networking basics for introverts

Whether in person or online, networking events can be challenging for introverts. We have tips!

June 27, 2023

A smiling woman looks back at the camera as she prepares to join a networking event.

Networking basics for introverts

Whether in person or online, networking events can be challenging for introverts. We have tips!

June 27, 2023

A smiling woman looks back at the camera as she prepares to join a networking event.

Networking basics for introverts

Whether in person or online, networking events can be challenging for introverts. We have tips!

June 27, 2023

Networking events: An introvert’s nightmare

For many of us, our jobs are more than just a 9-to-5 stint in an office. As work spaces and careers continue to evolve, meeting people at places outside of a cubicle or conference room continues to be a growing part of how we do our jobs.

Some people find this facet of work particularly difficult, even stress-inducing. If you are introverted, attending networking events and meeting new people can be overwhelming. Having a shy or quiet personality can mean that you have a difficult time when it comes to the social side of your job.

Why is networking important?

But managing your life skills is actually an important part of your own growth when it comes to your career. Why?

  • Out of sight, out of mind: If key people in your company or industry don’t know you exist, it will be difficult to be a part of any future they see. Visibility can be key.
  • It takes a village: The marketplace of ideas benefits from many different points of view. You can always learn something new from someone and vice versa. That can only help the overall goals for your business as well as for your personal growth.
  • Social capital: Networking can lead to strong relationships and that can build social capital, which is key for individual success as well as business success.
  • Phone a friend: Sometimes you need a connection to clear the path so you can move forward. Having connections in the right places can potentially make all the difference.

So, how can you step out of your comfort zone and get out there to make those connections? Here are a few easy tips and habits that can help ease you into these networking situations.

Navigating networking events confidently

There are many reasons why networking for introverts is more difficult than it is for others. Each person is unique, so you’ll want to select a way to address your feelings that makes you the most comfortable. For some people, their feelings of bashfulness can be amplified if they walk into a room full of unfamiliar people. Others feel tongue-tied and can’t think of anything to say when they are introduced to someone new.

Understanding that networking is an essential life skill and a way to build career opportunities, let’s look at some easy strategies you can use to push past any barriers if you have an introverted personality.

Make sure to prepare

Going into an uncomfortable situation with a game plan is the best way to begin. Before your next networking event, spend a few minutes thinking about what questions you might want to ask people. If someone in the room has a particular skill or perhaps works for a company that you’d like to learn more about, make a mental note to ask those questions.

If you worry that asking them will make you nervous, write down those questions ahead of time and practice asking them. Then, when you get a chance to bring them up in conversation, you’ll be able to do it easily.

Focus on meeting individuals, not an entire group

Walking into a room and being faced with a big group at a networking event can feel a bit intimidating to some people. If that describes you, narrow your focus to meeting and talking to certain people. Make it your goal to connect with a few key people in the room instead of trying to meet and talk with every single person.

This will allow you to have a few meaningful and in-depth conversations – and ask those questions you’ve prepared – rather than engaging in a lot of small talk with a wide range of people you likely won’t remember.

Bring a friend

We’ve all heard there’s strength in numbers. That’s never more true than when you need a little extra support walking into a networking event. If you don’t like to make an entrance alone, make plans to go with a colleague, or bring a friend along with you to the event. Their presence will give you the confidence you need to start meeting people on your own.

Use other channels: Virtual networking tips

Large-scale and in-person events are not the only places you can hone your networking skills. Online conferences and virtual events have become the norm for many even as companies are returning to onsite work. And messaging through social channels is another way to make a connection outside of large group networking events.

Networking on LinkedIn and Twitter can be a great way to connect not only with new colleagues, but with other people from your industry. For some, online networking is a more comfortable way to share ideas, tips and even set up online chat groups on social media platforms where you can network regularly from the comfort of your own home or office.

You don’t have to have met the person before you send a message. The social platforms allow everyone to get to know a little about each other without an introduction. Sending that first message can be hard, whether you’re an introvert or not. But you can do it. Simply be authentic, respectful and brief. (Here are some more tips for reaching out cold.)

Final networking tips for introverts

Strive for balance between in-person events and other kinds of connections. And keep these tips in mind whether you’re meeting someone new online or IRL.

Make sure you will be at your best

Are you a night owl or an early bird? Take into account your typical energy levels at different times of the day and realize that can affect your ability to fully engage and connect with new people. It made such a difference for the author of this column, that she swore off meetings and events that happen before 8 a.m. or after 9 p.m.

Ask questions

Make sure to keep an updated list of specific questions handy. You might be curious about how someone started out in their career, how long they’ve been with a company, or even what they love best about their job. Some of their answers might surprise you.

And don’t be afraid to ask questions unrelated to work. Often, the best and most meaningful connections you make with people can involve talking about travel, food or hobbies the other person enjoys. These more personal conversations will help you be more memorable than just someone chatting about work or the weather.

Follow-up after introductions

This goes back to what your parents taught you about sending a thank-you note after you receive a gift. When you’ve connected with someone at a networking event, send a follow-up email the next day. Remember to personalize the notes, thanking them for some specific piece of information or mentioning something you discussed, as a way to create a bond and increase your chances of success.

Then, add the person on LinkedIn to create another layer of connection. In special cases, you’ll really hit it off with a person during a networking event and maybe even realize they could be a professional mentor to you.

If this is the case, consider sending a small gift with your thank-you note, just to let them know how much making that connection meant to you. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate gesture. It could be a small gift card for a local coffee shop, or some other item connected to the conversation you had.

By following these simple networking tips, you’ll be ready for your next event and on your way to making connections that will help enrich your personal business goals. And if those goals include earning a little extra income with the flexibility to work around your existing job, consider learning more about the Amway business.