You know when you feel totally exhausted in a group of large people and all you did was walk into the room? This is the curse of the introvert. Introverts purposely avoid networking events because of the amount of energy they must use up to just attend them. It’s exhausting making conversation with strangers and trying to build a rapport out of thin air. At some point though, stepping into a networking event with other like-minded individuals can be one of the best moves for your career. However, this revelation doesn’t make it any easier for introverts. Here are a few simple ways to network at an event that won’t leave you totally exhausted.
1. Be true to your style
In any case where we are unsure of the results, we will always need to step out of our comfort zone. But we also don’t want to risk “putting ourselves out there” so much that we never want to do it again. If a big event with dinner and speakers on a stage is not your style, try something a little more intimate like drinks after work with some colleagues. Meetup.com is a great resource for finding groups of people with similar interests. Try a few out and see what’s not too far from your comfort zone. The more comfortable you become, they easier it will be to keep meeting more people.
2. Find out who’s already going
Do a bit of research and find out who’s going. That way when you arrive at the event you already know the people you’d like to connect with. If you don’t have access to the MeetUp group, Facebook event, or guest list is, get in touch with the event coordinator and see if you can find out who will be attending. Speak a bit about yourself and what you’re looking for. They may be able to connect you once you arrive. That way most of the heavy lifting is done before you get there. The less small talk the better.
3. Get in a good mood
I always find that when I am in a good mood, I feel like everyone else is in a good mood too, which makes opening up so much easier. So do whatever it takes to get you feelin’ good. Listen to your favorite upbeat song, go for a walk, or spend five minutes with a beloved pet. When you feel good, other people will be attracted to that energy and want to be around you.
4. Find someone else who seems like an introvert
After you’ve arrived at the event and had a chance to say hello to the host, see if you can spot someone else who seems like an introvert. I tend to get nervous at gatherings, so I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to start a conversation is to find someone who seems just as nervous as me. Look for people that are sitting or standing alone by themselves, checking their watch, or who look like they’re contemplating walking up to a group. They’ll probably want someone else to approach them just to take the pressure off. And they will be relieved when you do.
5. Be a great listener
People love to talk about themselves, it’s true. They are experts of their own life and are happy to share that expertise. But even more than that, they love it when people are genuinely listening to what they have to say. If show genuine interest and ask questions, they will like you. If something in conversation comes up that you can help them with, offer to help. There may only be one person in the whole bunch that you really like and want to help, but that doesn’t matter. One genuine connection with another professional is better than 100 business cards.
6. Follow up with people you like
When you’ve made a connection the most critical part is following up. This part you can do on your own time, when you’ve gained some energy back. Send your contact an email, tweet, or even a phone call. Whatever matches your style of communication. The important part here is strengthening that connection. If you come across something that you think would be useful for them after the fact, shoot them a quick email. It lets them know they’re on your mind and are willing to help. They will think of you in return when they find something you would like to know about.
Networking is all about the long-term relationship; building quality connections could end up being incredible resources for years to come. Look at it as a way to meet and get to know some good people in your community or industry. In the end, you’re all there for that same reason so enjoy the time! And have a nap when it’s all over.
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About the Author
Renee Masur is the Community Manager for Sokanu and Island girl living in Vancouver. She loves people and their stories.Follow on Google Plus Follow on Twitter More Content by Renee Masur