Networking When You Are an Introvert

Business people isolated from others

It’s not easy to attend a networking event where you don’t know anyone and you’d rather be at home curled up in a blanket reading a book. But meeting the right people can make a huge difference in your business, and this can only be done face to face. So how can you get the most out of networking meetings if you are an introvert? Here are some tips.

Learn what works best for you.

I discovered early on that I am a floundering fish out of water when it comes to unstructured situations such as a party or a crowd of people. But give me a little structure or a job to do, and I come alive, able to network with the best of them. So when I go to a party, I give myself a duty or try to find one from the host.

Figure out what you’re good and not good at, and work it to your advantage. You might be great at sitting down at a table of people versus walking around and mingling. You might be good at being a greeter, taking people’s coats, and showing them around. You might be good at serving, making sure everyone has a drink and food. Whatever makes you feel more comfortable while networking, do it so that you will be more comfortable and more effective.

Stay positive.

Find the best in people, even if they start to gossip. Don’t get sucked into talking negative about anyone. Keep it light and positive. Compliment people a lot.

Ask questions.

Introverts tend to be amazing at problem-solving and puzzles. IF you like puzzles, treat networking as one big puzzle to be solved. Ask a lot of questions to keep the other person talking.

Give before you get.

Don’t ask for the business too early. Trust needs to be built first. Find a way to give value before you ask for the business. Provide a free quick answer, ask a compelling question, or suggest coffee to build the relationship first.

Set a goal.

When you attend a networking event, set a goal of meeting five people, introducing two people you think would benefit from a relationship, setting up two coffee dates, or following up with acquaintances you met before. Don’t set a goal of attaining new business or handing out cards; these are not good goals for a networking meeting.

Especially if you tend to leave early and feel guilty that you didn’t meet more people, a goal will give you a target to aim for and you will feel good after you’ve accomplished your mission.

Follow up.

Real relationships are not built during a networking meeting; they are built one on one. Liberally invite people to coffee so you can get to know them better.

Continue the conversation online.

Nurture and supplement your face time with your online presence via social media. A social media presence is a great way to accelerate your expertise and leadership in your area.

Reward yourself.

After the networking meeting, reward yourself and recharge with that book and blanket.

If you are an introvert, networking is never easy or natural, but it can be more comfortable using these tips.