5 Networking Tips for Introverts By Janna P.
Hello to all my lady bosses! For us to navigate this ever-changing world that we live in, and fully discover our true boss potential, we must navigate the world of networking. Networking is key in the professional world and in life. Life has placed people in two categories: extroverts and introverts. Extroverts enjoy being around people and therefore, it may appear that networking is an easy task for them to complete. However, the same may not apply to those people who are introverted and gain energy from being alone. I must say that I am an introvert with extrovert tendencies, so being completely honest, sometimes networking can be scary. However, I have learned some wonderful networking tips for introverts, like you and me. The way that I visualize these tips are in a process format, meaning that I look at them as steps instead of tips, maybe this will help you to better understand them as well. Keep reading to check out these helpful tips, and remember that knowledge isn’t power until it’s applied!
It’s important to find someone you can view as a mentor who will be able to help you in the world of networking. By having this mentor, you will be able to witness how they operate in regard to networking and see what techniques they use in order to best connect with others. A mentor does not always have to be someone you know or physically talk to. On the contrary, it can be someone you look up to, someone you feel has great qualities/characteristics, or even someone in the professional field you aspire to be in one day. This mentor should be a person who you feel understands networking or connecting with large amounts of people and does so in such a manner that inspires you to emulate their actions. Try to figure out how your mentor talks to others and displays their confidence, and in doing so learn how you can do the same.
Half the battle of being an introvert trying to network is just showing up to an event where you know a large amount of people will be present. It can be so easy to talk ourselves out of attending for various reasons. For example, being an introvert means you don’t gain energy from crowds, and as a result, a large and crowded event can become less appealing. However, if you never allow yourself to step out of your comfort zone and when the opportunity to network presents itself, then how can you ever expect yourself to be successful with networking? You will never become comfortable until you make an effort to try do so. The next time you are invited to a big event, think of the amazing networking opportunity the event could be for you and just show up!
So, you’ve showed up to the event and now someone is engaging in conversation with you, what do you do? Try utilizing the F.O.R.M. method to assist you with carrying an effortless conversation. The letters in F.O.R.M. give you different topics to discuss that are easy to talk about and will help your conversation flow. F: Ask the person where they are from. O: Ask their occupation. R: Ask what he/she enjoys doing for recreation. M: Ask what motivates him/her. These sentences are all basic conversation starters that allow you to ask a basic question and then give you the opportunity to think of follow-up questions based on their responses. These topics are also very easy to discuss and take the pressure off you. Preventing the added stress of having to constantly think of what to discuss. Don’t forget this also works vice versa for if you want to engage a person in conversation with one person so you don’t have to be immersed in a huge group of people.
Now that you have warmed up and gotten rid of those anxieties, it’s time to network! You’ve made small talk so now the next step is to connect with the individual you’ve been speaking with and exchange information. This person may be able to assist you in your future endeavors. Once you’ve gotten their information, feel free to walk around the room until someone else engages you again or until you feel like engaging. Then repeat the previous step and once you feel the conversation coming to an end, exchange contact information. Connecting with people at various events is the key to networking. Meeting others who may share common interests as you can be beneficial. They may be able to put in a good word for you at a job or connect you to someone who they feel can better help you. But if you never make small talk or exchange information, then you never know what someone may be able to offer you or you can offer them.
Lastly, you must follow-up. Congratulations! You’ve successfully endured the nerve wracking part of networking. You attended an event with a vast amount of people and you actually spoke to someone and shared contact information. Now, it’s up to you to reach out to this person. You can do this in whatever manner is best comfortable for you. I prefer sending an email explaining who I am, where we met and if there’s a possibility for us to meet up in the future. After I email someone, we typically exchange numbers and set up a coffee date. This second meeting is more intimate. I don’t know about you but knowing that so many people won’t be around already makes me ten times at ease. Following up gives you a chance to learn more about someone and really ask questions that you feel are beneficial to you and set up a plan of action for how this person can assist you and your goals and vice versa.
Remember, sometimes in order for us to reach our goals we must rely on our connections. It’s not what we know or who we know, it’s who knows us! If we do not network, then we have no connections to rely on. So, the next time you’re invited somewhere, think of all the benefits you could receive by attending the event, even if you are an introvert. Internalize these tips and then go out and conquer the world as an introverted networker!