Breaking out of the comfort zone – Networking for Introverts
For the introverts of the world, networking events bring with them a whole heap of neurosis. Anxiety, fear, stress, shyness. These are just a few of the psychological barriers that many introverts have to overcome to push themselves out of their comfort zone and network successfully. For some, a networking event may feel like you’ve stepped into a nightmarish casting room for The Apprentice, with confident extroverts selling themselves at every turn. You may think that being an introvert in this situation is a huge disadvantage, but there is plenty of research out there to show that introverts actually make the best networkers as they are natural listeners and tend to be much more interested in other people rather than selling themselves. Introversion is not a disadvantage, it simply means you take a different approach. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of networking as an introvert…
One of the best ways to calm those pre-networking nerves is to prepare yourself. This can be something as simple as coming up with a few introductory lines to get the conversation flowing. Here are just a few examples of appropriate conversation starters you could use:
- What brings you to this program/event/meeting?
- What do you think about the events so far?
- Are you working in the industry at the moment? What do you do?
- Do you know any of the speakers? Which would you recommend?
- This is my first time at this event. Is there a session I shouldn’t miss going to?
If possible, try and find out who will be attending the event, establish who you would like to talk to, and what you would you like to talk about. Make this your mission! Having a plan in place will make the whole process much more purposeful and palatable.
As an introvert, this is where your natural flair for listening can come in handy. Listening may seem like a simple task, however gaining genuine insight into a person is anything but simple. Introverts are focused on genuine, long-term relationship building rather than surface-level, transactional connections – effective listening skills are key to achieving this. Many networkers out there may be primarily motivated by their own agenda and what they can get out of the event, which can lead to insincere, sales-pitch conversations. No-one likes this. Listen intently to other people and you never know what opportunities might arise.
Quality over quantity.
Some people may approach networking events like speed dating, aiming to introduce themselves to as many people as possible and dish out all of their business cards. This is fine for some, but an introvert should aim to have fewer, more in-depth conversations instead. A meaningful conversation is much more rewarding for everyone involved, not to mention much more memorable. Think of it as trying to make a new friend, and don’t be scared to ask personal questions.
This is one of the most important pieces of advice we can give you. When faced with a room of extroverts, there is the temptation to alter your personality to attempt to fit in. Don’t! As we’ve said throughout this article, being an introvert is not a disadvantage when networking, let your natural talents for listening and relationship building get to work, don’t try and be someone you’re not as it will be easy to spot.
You’ve done it, you’ve survived the dreaded networking event with little to no emotional scarring! You may think that the networking is over now but that’s where you’re wrong. It’s vital that you follow up on any connections you’ve made. Add them on LinkedIn and other social media channels, send them an email, drop them a call. Whatever you do just make sure it’s personal. You’ve went through the stress of establishing a relationship, now it’s the easy part for introverts, maintain it.
At Maxwell Stephens we’ve become well-practised in the subtle art of effective networking and we’re always on hand to help any way we can. If you want to discuss your career or how we can help you, drop us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call on 0207 118 4848.