I’m an introvert.
I’m not outgoing and I love working from home, but when I attend an event or run a trade show, I turn into a completely different person.
I become outgoing; introducing myself to total strangers and actually looking forward to networking receptions and exhibit hall hours in the booth. After attending many shows and events for work, I have learned a lot of successful ways to engage others, even through I’m not normally outgoing. Here are five networking tips for my fellow introverts.
1. Create a Persona
2. Pick Out Another Introvert
I always dread standing around by myself at a networking event. So to make sure I don’t look like a loner, I slowly walk around the room and find other’s who are either alone or with someone they are not talking to (usually their coworker/friend). Conversely, If you try to approach a group of people you don’t know who are already in a discussion, it can be awkward or even rude if you break in. Stick with targeting one or two people to spark a conversation with.
3. Pick an Opening Phrase or Two
A common fear of networking is not knowing what to say once you approach someone. I like to have a couple of phrases prepared so I never end up just standing there. After introducing myself, I like to start with something basic like, ‘I see you work for Company X, what do you do there?’ Or, ‘How are you enjoying the event so far?’ Or even, ‘Where are you from?’ Asking a few easy questions can generate a dialogue that turns into a good conversation and even a new LinkedIn connection or business card to add to your collection.
4. Keep it Together
Although it’s easy to take advantage of the free alcoholic drinks at networking events, especially when you’re nervous, try to limit yourself to one and nurse it throughout the event, or drink something that looks like a drink (soda water and lime). This will keep your head clear and also keep you from saying or doing something unprofessional.
5. Keep Moving
The beauty of networking is not having to talk to one person all night. After you’ve spent at least five minutes with someone, unless you’re having a good conversation, tell them how nice it was to meet them, followed by a handshake and move on to the next person. The solitude (that us introverts crave) in between these interactions is your reward for putting yourself out there.
Do you have any networking tips?