Being an introvert at a networking event isn’t automatically a recipe for disaster. There have been a number of successful business professionals like Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and Google co-founder Larry Page who have been able to interact with the public while remaining introverts. Depending on your career, you may find yourself in a situation where you’ll be forced to network with other professionals or potential clients. For an introvert, networking can be frightening, intimidating, and the least favorite part of the job. But before you start getting anxious, remember that if these successful introverts can run companies and pitch new ideas to the public, you can make it through a networking encounter just fine.
How introverts handle a networking situation will differ from how extroverts will. That’s okay. You don’t have to force yourself to be outgoing or meet every single person in the room. Successful introverts have their own set of networking tips that have helped them do their jobs and help their businesses grow. By utilizing these tips, you can feel more at ease in a crowd and get the task at hand done.
- Plan Ahead– Do you research before the event. Not only will you want to double check where it’s going to be and what the dress code is, but see if you can learn who will be there. Some networking events may list the companies or representatives who have RSVPed. If it’s going to be an especially large gathering, pin point what businesses you should target and who you should make it a point to meet. You’ll also want to prepare what you’re going to say and what your elevator pitch is. Rehearse at home if need be, but have a game plan as to what your goal for the event is. You’ll feel more comfortable if you have a better idea of what to do and what to expect.
- One at a Time– When meeting people, just remember to take it one person at a time. You don’t have to introduce yourself to everyone within the first half hour of the event. Focus on the person in front of you and try to make a connection. If you’re with a group of people, include them as well, but don’t stress over everyone else in the room. You’ll get to them later.
- Bring a Partner– If you’re okay going to a networking event but dread going alone, see if you can bring one of your co-workers with you. Preferably it should be someone who is knowledgeable about what it is you’re trying to communicate. For example, if you’re a marketer for a healthcare company, you may want to bring a long a medical professional who can explain in more detail what services are offered and how certain procedures are done. Not only will you have a partner, but the attention you’ll get will be shared with the person you’re with.
- Listen– One of an introvert’s best skills is being a good listener. Use that to your advantage. Some people at networking events are so focused on getting their message across that they don’t pay attention to what everyone else has to say. You’ll want to make your point, but listen to those around you. Perhaps you can pick up on a need another business has that your business can help with. Maybe a new partnership can be made with another organization that has the same goals as yours. Listen and pay attention to determine how best to integrate your pitch so it resonates with each person.
No matter what you do, be true to yourself. If you force yourself to behave like an extrovert, you’ll come off a fake. It’ll be difficult to attract allies and partners that way. If you’re an introvert, be an introvert. Just follow these tips and enjoy it. With enough practice you grow more comfortable with networking and can become a successful introvert yourself.