By Kristen Harris
Some people love networking. They really like meeting new people, chatting in the grocery line, making friends on the airplane. When they walk into a room full of strangers they just see potential future friends. These people extroverts and they are not me.
I like people, I really do. But I want to have the chance to get to know them, to understand who they are, what they think and where they’re coming from. I’m an introvert but I’m not anti-social. I just need to apply a few tactics that make networking work for me.
These are my top tips for how introverts can get the most out of any event or networking opportunity.
Just Go. To get something out of an event you have to attend. I know it seems obvious, but this is actually a challenge for me. Something sounds interesting, I sign up, I plan to go…then the day comes and the idea of attending sounds exhausting. To overcome this I simply make myself go, and I never regret it. Once I’m there I have a great time, it’s usually way more fun than I expected, and I’m so happy I attended. Don’t second-guess yourself, just go.
Arrive Early. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s better to arrive early to an event. You may think it’s better to arrive later and quietly slip in, but it never works that way. When you arrive later people have broken into groups and are engaged in conversations. Now you have to try to join an ongoing conversation or feel like you’re interrupting. I hate that! When you arrive early it’s easy to start chatting with the few other people who are there and keep adding people to your group as they arrive. Plus you’ll get to meet the leaders of the event or organization which leads to…
Get Involved. I get involved with organizations I like and events I want to attend. It’s much easier for me to meet people one-on-one or in small groups, and I like having something to do. When I have a responsibility or am volunteering on behalf of the organization, part of my job is to greet people and engage others in conversation. It’s also a great way to meet people who are well-connected…
Meet the Influencers. There are influencers in any group or organization. Identify one or two people you’d like to know and make a point of meeting them. It’s much less stressful to focus on a few particular people rather than feeling as if I have to make friends with the whole room before I leave.
Follow Up. If you truly enjoy getting to know people like I do, follow up after the event. Reach out to someone that you chatted with to continue the conversation. Send them an article or connect them with someone else they should know. Networking might happen at an event but real relationships are built over time.
For more tips on networking for introverts, check out our article Networking for Introverts: 10 Tips to Survive and Thrive at Events.