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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 work continues to be a growing part of how we do our jobs. Some people find this facet of work particularly difficult, even stress-inducing.

Attending networking events and meeting new people can be overwhelming especially if you are introverted. Having a shy or quiet personality can mean that you have a difficult time when it comes to the social side of your job. But managing your life skills is actually an important part of your own growth when it comes to your career. A few easy tips and habits can help ease you into these networking situations.

There are many reasons why networking might be harder for you if you’re an introvert. 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 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 a wide range of people with a lot of small talk.

Use Other Channels

Remember that large-scale and in-person events are not the only places you can hone your networking skills. Strive for balance between in-person events and other kinds of connections. Online networking is one way to balance out the larger group functions. Linkedin and Twitter can be great spaces to connect not only with new colleagues, but with other people from your industry. For some, this is a more comfortable place 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.

Ask Questions

Whether you’re networking in person or online, 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. 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.

Remember to 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, send a little 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 something simple like a few Nutrilite™ Wellness Bars, or a tube of the Artistry Studio™ Essential Oil On-the-Go Scented Balms. Both of these items can be bought in packs, which is handy for splitting them up into separate gifts.

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.

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 career.