8 Networking Tips for Introverts
With spring time around the corner, now is an excellent time to develop your networking plan for the remainder of the year. I find it so much easier to be social and attend networking events when it’s not freezing cold or snowy outside. Nurturing your network regardless of your job status is important. When people you connect with become it’s much easier to ask them for advice, mentorship job leads, and other professional support. But networking is not particularly easy for some of us and having some guidelines to follow can help bring some ease to the process. If you too are an introvert that wants to network more in 2019, read on the the tips below. These tips will help you in an assortment of events from cocktail parties, to networking sessions, to panel discussions.
1 | Determine how long you want to stay.
It can seem really overwhelming to stay at an event for hours on end for more reserved introverts. When attending events, consider setting an arrival time and departure time and stick to it. Make the most of the experience for as long as you decide to stay and leave when your energy levels start to wane.
2 | Set a goal for connections you’d like to make.
There’s really no point in going to any networking event if you aren’t going to actually connect with attendees. Set a goal of meaningful connections you’d like to make. It could be connecting with 1 person or 20, choose a number that feels comfortable for you and is realistic for the length, purpose and style of the event. But consider if you’re attending an event like a speaker series, there will likely be less time for connecting with attendees than attending a cocktail party where most people will be talking with others and connecting.
3 | Leave your phone in your pocket.
Phones can really be a crutch in social situations of all times these days. It’s so easy to pull out your phone and fiddle with it when you feel uncomfortable socially. If you feel compelled to stare at your IG, peruse email or respond to a text that could wait, consider leaving the event earlier because it’s not holding your attention.
4 | Don’t be afraid to politely butt into an ongoing conversation.
This can seem pretty uncomfortable even for me to this day, but give it a try. Just find a friendly group of people and stand by them until the conversation offers a natural entry if people don’t immediately acknowledge your presence. There’s nothing wrong with being a little assertive as long as you remain polite and friendly.
5 | Prompt people to talk about themselves.
Asking open ended questions is a good way to get the other person in the conversation to talk more about themselves. If you’re an introvert, you may naturally do this anyway. Offer up some questions that are appropriate for the setting and person like for a party setting: 1) Do you have any upcoming travel plans this year? 2) What is the last show you binge watched? What’s the last thing you’ve read or movie you’ve seen? Or in a more strictly business setting: 1) Do you know anyone else here/the host if the event has one? 2) What do you do? 3) Do you volunteer for any causes or organizations? If so, which ones?
6 | Don’t collect business cards unless you’re gonna use them.
Collecting business cards is pretty much a waste of paper unless you’re going to use them for follow-up. Don’t ask for a card unless you truly want to follow-up with the person. In settings where people don’t actually have business cards (many people end up forgetting them), as for professional emails or for permission to connect with someone via LinkedIn. Lock in contact info so you don’t forget your connections whether you want to collect business cards or not.
7 | Follow up the next day with anyone you want to remain connected with.
Don’t delay in responding to people you want to remain connected with. It’s easy to forget the context of where you’ve met if more than a day or so has gone by. Write a short email or short LinkedIn message to maintain the connection right away. To make things easier for yourself, consider writing a series of template follow-up emails for people using tips on websites like LinkedIn, Career Contessa, The Muse to use whenever you need them.
8 | Develop a cadence for remaining in touch with the individual.
Whether it’s sending them a quarterly update email or occasionally inviting them for an in person coffee catch-up, it’s super helpful to do this so people actually remember who you are! If you want to stay connected with people for professional purposes, stick with email and LinkedIn to maintain the connection. But if you want to remain connected with the person on a more personal level, consider connecting with them on your social media channel of choice (Twitter, IG, FB). As a rule of thumb, unless your social media is set to private and you know everyone you follow personally, don’t post anything on social media you’d be embarrassed for your grandmother to see. That’s my personal rule of thumb, - This is the tip I fall down on accomplishing the most frequently.
Networking doesn’t have to be that difficult if you put a strategy and plan of action in place even for us introverts!