The thought of networking in a crowded, chaotic environment and interacting with an endless stream of strangers can seem daunting. But nonetheless, effective networking is essential to making valuable contacts and progressing one’s career. So how can introverts feel comfortable while networking and walk away having a pleasant experience? Here are some tips.
Practice in Non-Stressful Situations
If networking doesn’t come naturally and isn’t your forte, you can improve this skill by practicing in a comfortable environment. For instance, you might want to create a short list of questions you can ask others and answers for common questions you may be asked so that you don’t feel like a deer in the headlights. You can also practice interacting with familiar colleagues to mimic how things would unfold during a networking event.
Connect Online Beforehand
The Internet has been very helpful for introverts. It allows you to make contacts and connect with others from safely behind a screen. If possible, look for a list of attendees who will be present during an event. Go ahead and email or contact via social media anyone you’re interested in speaking with. This can serve as a great icebreaker and should lower your stress levels.
Stick to Events You’re Comfortable With
By nature, introverts tend to prefer small, intimate settings rather than large ones with a lot of pandemonium. That’s why you may want to start with an event of about 50 people before moving your way up to one with 1,000.
Go with a Friend(s)
Having a friend attend with you is a great idea because you’ll have someone for support. It’s ideal if they’re somewhat extroverted because they can initiate conversations and help with introductions. A friend like this can often be the catalyst that gets the ball rolling and can be a great support system.
You can liken an introvert’s energy level to the pumpkin coach from Cinderella. Once the clock strikes midnight, it turns back into a pumpkin. After a certain amount of interacting and engagement, you may find yourself completely drained. To keep your batteries charged, you should make time to duck out for a little while to spend some time alone and reflect. This will allow your brain to decompress, and you can avoid that unpleasant mental fog.
Although networking may not be an introvert’s cup of tea, it can be highly advantageous for their career progress. By following these tips, you can make yourself as comfortable as possible and will hopefully gain something valuable from the experience.
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