An introvert is a person who internalises their thoughts and feelings. They are not necessarily shy or socially awkward. But they do tend to be quieter and more reserved. Moreover, introverts often find some situations drain them of energy, such as networking. As a result, they tend to avoid those situations. If this is you, here are some tips to help you network, despite this personality quirk.
The best way to overcome your fear of networking is to feel the fear and do it anyway. Networking events provide the chance to practice injecting yourself into conversations. Say something like, “Can I join you? What are we talking about?” and let yourself naturally flow into the conversation. This might put you out of your comfort zone, but no one ever achieved greatness staying where they were comfortable.
When we’re engaged in a conversation, our listening is often shallow. This is because we’re preoccupied with judging what the other person is saying, calculating our responses and preparing to speak. When the people we are conversing with don’t feel they have our full attention, it can leave a bad impression. Learning to be present takes time and patience, but it pays off in dividends.
Think about what you want to learn from others. While it is okay to let the extroverts do most of the talking, still have some questions ready in your back pocket. Great questions include “How did you get started in your career?” or “What are you passionate about?” Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with writing questions down and practicing ahead of time. Also, think about what you want to share about yourself. After all, you’re there to sell something—you.
Being yourself helps you to feel at ease, which goes a long way toward leaving a good impression when networking. Trying to anticipate what will impress the other person both increases your anxiety and makes you feel inauthentic. You don’t know who they really are. So relax and let your personality shine through. You never know, YOU might be just the person they’re looking to connect with.
We often see networking as a bad thing because it drums up images of people standing around in awkward groups, trying to make small talk. At a base level though, networking is simply relationship-building and connecting with someone on a deeper level. Relationships that might provide career connections or new opportunities. But the trick is to go in with a plan and no expectations.
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