Figuring out how to ace networking situations can be hard for everyone, but especially for those who are introverted.
Being in a room with total strangers and making conversation can feel like a living nightmare when you’re someone who feels overwhelmed in large groups.
It can feel intimidating to build connections with those within your industry and physically exhausting to put yourself out there or think of conversation starters.
We know, it can feel tempting to ditch going to socially demanding environments like networking events and opt for a night in, but stick with us.
Here at The Collective, we’ve put together this guide on the 10 best career networking tips for introverts - you can rely on us!
1. Hype Yourself Up
We all need a little reassurance from time to time, but especially so when you’re an introvert who struggles to talk to people and whose social battery runs out after a short while.
If you’re dreading attending a networking event, then hype yourself and tell yourself you can get through it.
Put on a happy face and try your best to stay motivated to meet like-minded people within your industry, after all, networking can be daunting for everyone, at least try it out!
Don’t focus too much on how stressful and daunting it may be, instead see it as an opportunity to develop your confidence and meet new people who will share similar interests.
After you’ve motivated yourself to start networking, make sure to give yourself rewards for doing so to empower yourself.
2. Be Authentic
Whilst it’s always good to try and hype yourself up and put on a happy face, you should still be authentic when networking.
You shouldn’t put on a front that you’re a hugely extroverted person and act like someone you’re not, be yourself and be true to who you are.
Not only will this lead to you feeling burnout and exhausted from trying to be overly sociable, but it could also prevent you from building genuine connections as people may see through the ‘front’ you’re putting on.
You don’t need to be extroverted to ace networking, not only do introverts make up around 25% to 40% of the population so they’ll be plenty of people in the same boat as you.
Plus, as an introvert you're a good listener and will be great at paying attention which is ideal for networking!
3. Know Your Goals
Our next career networking tip for introverts is to know your goals when you start networking.
Think about what you want out of attending these types of events, is it to build your connections, to get access to job opportunities or to grow in confidence?
Knowing what you want out of these events will ensure that you get the best outcomes, rather than just showing up with no goal in mind.
If you’re looking to build your connections or grow in confidence then why not set your goal as aiming to speak to a certain number of people at one event?
This way, you’ll have a sense of direction and it will make things easier.
4. Start Off Small
Huge events aren’t for everyone, especially introverts.
There’s no point diving into the deep end and trying to go to event after event right off the bat, you’ll just drain yourself out and you won’t want to go again.
This is super important if you’re new to networking as a young professional too, you need to get yourself used to things and start off small.
Attend a few events over a longer time frame, this way you won’t be exhausted from too many social interactions and put yourself off from going again!
Many people say you should always be networking, and whilst this may be true, you can still network online whilst spacing out the events you’ll be attending.
Setting reasonable expectations is key to acing networking as an introvert.
5. Use Social Media To Connect With People
Social media is a great way to connect with people and build your networking contacts an introverted professional.
If you haven’t already, make sure to establish an online presence on LinkedIn and other social networking platforms.
Not only can you share your work and meet contacts virtually, you can also use social media to get to know people prior to networking events.
This way, you’ll know who is in the room prior so you can approach people and have information to go off already - use the digital realm to your advantage as an introvert!
Successful networking is also about following up afterwards too, so make sure to send a message or quick email to the new contacts you encountered so you can maintain a connection.
Although, we’d steer clear of spamming everyone you met with messages online, as this can come across as pushy.
6. Make A Plan
As an introvert, talking on the spot can be super daunting, you may not know what to say or maybe you get word vomit and end up saying the complete opposite than what you were meant to say.
We’d suggest making a plan for any networking event you attend so this way you’ll be prepared for ice breaker questions and you’ll know what to say to introduce yourself as well as how to kick start conversations with other professionals.
Prepare questions before attending and think about the topic of conversations you want to discuss, this way it will be a lot harder for things to go wrong.
Although planning is important, try not to turn up to a networking event with a script memorised in your head of what to say, be authentic and let your personality shine through, even if it feels like a challenge!
7. Take Some Time Out
In the course of networking as an introvert, you’re going to feel drained from talking to strangers and being in more stimulating environments than you perhaps would like.
So, you should ensure that you take breaks and have time out to recharge your social battery and have a breather!
Head to the bathroom, scroll on your phone for a little bit, step outside, go and grab something to eat or drink.
Whatever you do, just take a chill pill and allow yourself some time away from all of the social interactions.
Not everyone can talk to people for a long period of time and be around large groups for hours, and that’s okay.
Accept that you’ll need some time to refuel and don’t apologise for it!
What we mean by this is to be accepting of yourself and your personality type.
Don’t try and push the boat out too much and do things that don’t work for you.
8. Bring Along A Support Buddy
Who’s to say you can’t bring along a friend with you to networking events?
As an introvert, you’ll feel a lot better having someone with you as this will take away the scariness of being on your own, and you’ll feel less awkward not having people to speak to.
If your friend or colleague you’re attending the event with is more of an extrovert then this can help you approach people and they can introduce you to people if you’re struggling!
If you haven’t got anyone to be your support buddy, be on the hunt for other introverts when you go to any professional events.
This way you’ll find it easier to approach them and you’ll have someone who’s in a similar position to you.
Although, when bringing along someone with you to a networking event, try to remember the goals you’ve set for attending.
You’re there to meet new people and expand your contact list within your field, don’t limit yourself by spending all your evening chatting to the person you came with!
9. Host Your Own Events
Remember you can network in a way that suits you and however you like.
So, if attending huge events with big groups of people standing around in a room isn’t your style, why not host your own event?
You could reach out to people online who share a similar niche and are within your industry to ask if they'd be interested in coming along, or even helping you put on the event.
It doesn’t have to be something stellar, you can even host a dinner party to build some valuable connections - quality over quantity as we say.
Making gatherings work for you will improve the likelihood of your success and will ensure that you enjoy networking!
10. Don’t Put Pressure on Yourself
You should try not to put too much pressure on yourself about messing up at networking events, everyone does it.
As an introverted person, the fact you’re even trying to get yourself out there and attending organised events is a big step.
You’ll come to realise that most people will feel the same way as you and would much rather sit at home with a book or watch their favourite TV shows than going to these events, or at least at first.
You’re not going to be perfect at the networking process straight away, you may do or say things that later you replay in your mind or perhaps you don’t say anything at all and freeze.
Maybe you end up leaving the event early because you’re too drained. It doesn’t matter if this happens, there’s always next time!
You’ll become more comfortable about building relationships and starting conversations as time goes on - it's called personal development for a reason!
Hopefully you now know how to network effectively as an introvert with our 10 top tips.
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