Networking can do wonders for your career. But, if you’re an introvert, conventional methods — like speaking at a conference or walking up and introducing yourself to a stranger at a networking event — can feel downright undoable.
Introverts do best when they play to their awesome strengths rather than fight against their weaknesses. Here are a few networking tips for introverts that should ease the process:
1. Remember: this is about them, not you.
Introverts are excellent listeners. So, in that sense, they are uniquely poised to be amazing networkers. Good networkers remember that the focus should be on the other guy, not on themselves. Focus on listening and building relationships rather than on selling yourself and you should do just fine.
2. Get back in touch.
Not all networking contacts need to be brand-new. Spend some time poking around on professional networking sites, or look through the contacts on your phone. Then, reach out to folks you’ve lost touch with.
Since introverts thrive on their alone time, they can sometimes let valuable connections slide. Reaffirm a couple good contacts. Doing so will strengthen and expand your network. And, it will build your confidence in your networking skills, too.
3. Take a class.
It takes introverts time to feel totally comfortable in new situations and with new people. So, if you’re an introvert, a one-shot networking event probably isn’t what’s best for you. Instead, try taking a class to help sharpen a relevant skill. You’ll naturally network along the way, forming new connections with classmates over a period of time.
It’s always a good idea to be prepared, especially for events or experiences that feel particularly challenging. Plus, many introverts are great at attending to details. So, when getting ready for any kind of networking activity, be sure to do some good prep.
Think about a couple of questions you might ask. Brainstorm two or three topics, ideas or stories you’d like to share about yourself. Keep your lists short and sweet and easy to remember. If you end up covering half of it, you’ll be doing a lot. Preparation will help steady your nerves and focus your experience.
5. Lean on online options and opportunities.
In-person events can be intimidating and uncomfortable. Thankfully, we live during an age where online options to meet and greet are readily available. So, lean on online networking options. Build your profiles carefully and commit to being more active online in general.
6. Reach out in writing.
Many introverts feel comfortable expressing themselves through writing, and they’re often quite good at it. So, lean on that strength.
Reach out in writing to those connections that you’d like to strengthen. You can do it via email, or through a not-so-old-fashioned thank-you note if you like. The medium doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you express yourself in a meaningful way that’s comfortable for you.
7. Collect information and follow up.
Make a plan about what you’ll do after the event.
Start by collecting some information from new contacts. After you’ve met someone new, exchange business cards and take a few notes on the back.
Later, you can use that information, and your notes, to continue to build your relationship. You can follow up about ideas you discussed, or ask for more information about opportunities. Make sure to write down everything on the card (or, just record ideas on your phone if cards aren’t being exchanged) so you can easily follow up later.
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