Do you get stressed out thinking about attending an event? Does the word “networking” make you sweat? Do you just prefer spending time alone? If you answered yes to all of these questions, you just might be an introvert.
To my fellow introverts out there, you’re not alone.
What Does It Mean to Be an Introvert?
People have a lot of misconceptions about introversion. Being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean you’re shy. It also doesn’t necessarily mean you hate people. So, what is it?
The main crux of the difference between introverts and extroverts is where you draw your energy. Extroverts draw their excitement and energy from being in crowds of people while introverts find crowds exhausting. Instead, introverts take their energy from spending time alone.
Normally, it’s not a huge problem. Introverts find jobs that allow them quiet time to analyze and absorb, and know how to manage their social lives in a healthy and positive way. But, what about during networking events?
Networking is so important in today’s digital world. If you don’t think so, read this blog post and then maybe you’ll change your mind. But, as an introvert, it can be hard to think so.
Networking is Not For Introverts
When I started working at Roundpeg and had to attend networking events, they were nothing short of a grim death march to the end. I loathed them. But, after a year and a half, I’ve come to peace with them. Along the way, I’ve figured out a few tips and tricks that help me survive during networking events.
- Have a Goal: Before you set foot into a networking event, figure out why you’re there. Is it to make new sales contacts, meet new friends or make strategic connections? Having a firm sense of purpose can help you tailor your discussion to your needs, and make the time more productive.
- Have a Spiel: I’m not recommending that you go in with every word planned out ahead of time, but having a few key questions to ask can help smooth your way into a productive conversation. I like to ask “So what brings you here tonight?” as well as the ever popular “How can I help you?” Show genuine interest in the answers. As an added bonus, asking questions lets the other person carry the conversation – and you come out looking like a sensitive, great listener.
- Have a Reward: When I go to a networking event, I always have an ending in mind. Maybe that means I stay until 7:30, or it means I stay until I make five quality contacts. Having a set time or goal helps me get through the evening and be more productive. If it’s a particularly long or trying event, I might promise myself a treat afterwards – some time watching my favorite show or a nice dinner. Whatever helps you make it through.
- Be Realistic: I learned the hard way that if I try to do a networking event in the morning, another in the evening and work in the middle, I wind up not being my best at any of those things. Know what works for you, and let yourself be choosy about which events are really worth your time and energy.
- Don’t Be Clingy: This is one I’m still working on. It’s so easy to find people you feel comfortable with and spend all your time with. Don’t. This defeats the purpose of networking – to meet new people and make new connections.
Healthy Networking Habits for Introverts
It’s important to develop healthy networking habits. These can be especially useful during a desperate time of need.
First, it’s important to find the right event for yourself. There are plenty of websites that can help you find the perfect networking event such as Meetup, Eventbrite and Eventful. Or, if you’re an avid Facebook user, you can search for networking events in Facebook’s “events” section.
When you decide on an event, set a goal. As mentioned, it’s important to figure out why you’re there. By setting a goal, you’ll have something to focus on during the event. If you’re interested in learning even more tips, you should check out our Networking Guide – it’s packed with great information that’ll help you survive your next networking event.
Networking Isn’t That Bad
Once you’re out socializing during the actual event, you’ll soon realize that these events can actually be fun. It may take getting a little used to, but doesn’t everything? I mean, practice does make perfect.