For a lot of introverts, the prospect of networking is more than just a little nerve-racking. Having to chat with strangers to establish connections can definitely trigger anxiety. However, networking is essential when it comes to exploring more career opportunities.
Even (or especially) when you’re doing online work, networking is still essential. Since most online work is typically not as permanent as regular office jobs, it’s important to have connections to back you up when your last job ends and it’s time for you to go job hunting again.
To help you tackle your socializing fears, here are 5 helpful networking tips for introverts.
Arrive at events early.
Arriving when a party is in full swing can make approaching someone much more difficult. At this point, many people will already be socializing with others, so you would have to butt in in the middle of their conversations. To avoid this nightmare scenario, get there early! When there are fewer people around, it’ll be so much easier to approach one of the lone people scattered around the event who also got to the venue early.
Utilize existing connections to get an introduction.
Having a wingman can work wonders for your confidence in approaching people. They can break the ice for you and start to get the conversation going. Just make sure that you’re willing to do the same for them so they won’t get tired of helping you out.
Make a list of potential questions so you can put the spotlight on the other person.
Have a cheat sheet, mental or physical, to help make sure that the conversation is flowing. This especially helps if you’re a little iffy when it comes to sharing information about yourself. Lots of people are happy to talk about themselves especially if you get them started on a topic they’re passionate about. Make sure you truly listen to them though. You want to really get to know your new contact better so it’ll be easier to talk to them again in the future.
If you’re not comfortable networking live, do it online first.
Some people find face-to-face conversations difficult but are perfectly comfortable chatting online or exchanging emails. If you’re one of them, then do your networking online instead. This way, you have ample time to craft your responses. Plus, networking online can help you avoid awkward silences that usually come up during face-to-face meetups.
Practice makes perfect!
Practice, practice, practice! For many introverts, social situations involving networking are never going to be 100% comfortable. But with enough practice, it will be more bearable eventually. Take it one step at a time. On the first event you attend, make it your goal to make just one new contact. Then try taking it a step further when you attend the next networking event on your calendar.
Yes, networking is scary, but there are things you can do to make things easier for you. Don’t forget to take it slow as well. Set some smaller goals for yourself so that things don’t seem as daunting. Hopefully, the tips above can help you overcome your fears so you can expand your career horizons.
Got any networking tips for your fellow introverts? Share them in the comments below!