Networking for Introverts 101

Networking. It’s essential if you want to stay ahead of the game, and that’s true no matter your industry. Connecting and socializing with key players in your field is the best way to find new opportunities, learn something, and continue to grow professionally. But not all of us are natural social butterflies, and that’s ok. Hello, fellow introverts! If you’d rather read in bed than go to a cocktail party, and watch TV on the couch with your dog instead of attending a networking event, this blog post is for you. You’ve got to get out there and talk to people, even if you’re a wallflower. But don’t worry, it’s not all bad news.

Here are some creative ways you can flex your networking skills and connect with leaders in your industry – even if you identify as a hermit crab.

First, know that social media is your new best friend. Or maybe an old one, depending on how plugged in you are. LinkedIn is an excellent resource for finding colleagues in your field and it allows you to post as yourself or as a business. Similarly to Facebook, it’s a great place for sharing articles, allowing you to connect with others and start conversations. You can also post updates about your business or about yourself, and like and comment on others’ posts. It’s kind of like Facebook’s model for social networking, but for professionals.

LinkedIn is also a great resource for finding workshops, training courses, and recruiting new employees. All without leaving the comfort of your own home or office.

Pro tip: To make the most of social media networking, don’t just post about your own business or accomplishments. Remember, the keyword here is social, which is give and take. So be sure to do your diligence in following others back, liking, commenting, and sharing on their updates. You can do this on other platforms like Facebook as well, but LinkedIn is the platform that is widely recognized as most professional.

Of course, not all of our interactions can be online. Yes, you’ll have to do SOME in-person mingling, but you don’t have to turn into the social butterfly that you are not. This is where quality is infinitely better than quantity. Choose which events you attend wisely, and space them out over the month, quarter, and year so that you aren’t overwhelmed. Check out who else will be attending, if possible, and research past events from the organizer before you commit.

 

Another time-saving, face-saving hack is to not only choose your events wisely, but also who you talk to once you’re there. In fact, knowing how to scan and read a room to know who to talk to (and for how long, and what to say!) could be its own blog post, and maybe it will be!
But the main takeaway is to find one or two people to strike up a conversation with and exchange business cards. You don’t have to speak to everyone in a room or even a quarter of the people in a room. A few quality connections are all you need.

Finally, when you do get the chance to meet and greet, skip the small talk. We’re all busy, and getting (politely) down to business will be appreciated. Let people know who you are and briefly mention what you do, and then let them talk. People love to talk about themselves, ever noticed? And that’s great news for you, the introvert at the function! The more they talk, the less you’ll have to. Just don’t forget to listen.

Bonus tip: Always bring a few extra business cards with you and make sure they are up to date with your phone number and email address. After all, there’s no point in making new connections if no one knows how to get in touch with you!

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