Today I Learned...
etworking is often seen as the domain of extroverts, but introverts can be just as good at it. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that some introverts are even better at networking than their extroverted counterparts. All you need is preparation and some basic training on how to approach people at networking events—and really, who doesn't want more practice talking to new people?
Introverts can network effectively if they prepare in advance and do their research.
To network effectively, introverts should do some research on the people they want to meet and the event they are attending. In many cases, this will include researching the industry and company they want to work for in more depth than they have before. This is especially true if an introvert is looking for a job at a specific company or with a particular person who works there.
Introverts can also prepare themselves by thinking about what it is that they want from networking interactions before meeting someone new. Having this focus will help them know how best to direct their energy so that it moves the conversation forward without putting off those around them or coming across as awkward or disinterested in what others are saying.
Learn to love a little small talk.
You'll be amazed at how much you can learn about a person and feel like you have a connection with them if you ask them questions and really listen to their answers.
The best way to start is by asking them what they do for work, but don't worry if that's too much of a stretch—if they're in your target industry, that's enough. You can also ask them what they like about working there or how long they've been there. If the conversation gets going well, consider asking more personal questions such as their favorite book or movie (you don't want to go overboard!).
Prepare your material and rehearse your pitch.
Preparation is key, and this is especially true for introverts. You'll have to prepare your material—for example, the one or two sentences you want to say about yourself—and rehearse your pitch. Rehearsing can take many forms: practicing in front of a mirror, practicing in front of a friend or family member if they're willing, watching yourself on camera (either recording yourself with a camera or using an app), watching yourself on video recorders, etc. Using these tools will help you get comfortable speaking and prevent any awkwardness when meeting new people at networking events!
Make sure you know what you want out of networking.
In order to network successfully, you'll need to understand exactly what it is that you're trying to achieve. Are you looking to grow your business and develop new client relationships? Do you want more mentorship opportunities or advice on how to improve yourself professionally?
Start with what outcomes matter most to YOU and write down the specific results that would help advance your career goals:
- If my networking efforts are successful, I will be able to…
- The professional benefits of networking include…
Have a list of questions prepared to ask people.
It’s important to have a list of questions prepared to ask people when they introduce themselves. You want to ask questions that will help you learn about the person and their interests, as well as their business. You also want to ask questions that will help you learn about their industry and goals.
Here are some examples:
- What industries does your company serve?
- What is the mission of your organization/business?
- How long have you been with this organization/business?
Be interested in what other people have to say rather than focusing on what you want them to know about you.
One of the best ways to make a good impression is to be genuinely interested in what other people have to say, rather than focusing on what you want them to know about you. This is especially true when you're networking with potential employers. In addition to asking questions, try maintaining eye contact with the person who's speaking and nodding or smiling when it's appropriate. You might find that this method allows others to feel more comfortable talking with you at an event like a conference or business mixer—and it can help you establish rapport.
I hope this post has helped you to understand that networking doesn't have to be scary or difficult.
With the right attitude and preparation, even introverts can network effectively. In the end, it's all about having a good time and connecting with interesting people. If you follow these tips and practice some of them at home before heading out into the wild world of business events, I promise good results will follow!