Meeting new people is scary. Making small talk is scary. Getting out of the office and meeting people is scary. I’ve been there. You’re sitting at a table looking around awkwardly in between forced smiles you exchange with people that you accidentally make eye-contact with. Your brain is going into overdrive searching for something witty to say or a question that you can ask the people around you. All you want is to go back into the peace and quiet of your home or office.
For introverts, networking is an evil necessity. Networking is essential for opportunity finding, job searching, relationship building and sharing your name and abilities for whatever arises as a result. However, it all has to start with the worst combination of The Introvert’s Scary “S” Trio: Small talk, Strangers and Socials. Luckily for you, I, a fellow introvert, have compiled a list of networking tips to help you be less anxious when you attend your next event.
- Bring a friend or coworker. Having someone that you are already comfortable talking with at your side can really help to ease the conversation. Through bringing a friend, you both can benefit from networking so it’s a two-for-one event!
- Establish your purpose. It can be less awkward for you when you attend your networking event if you know exactly why you are there. Set a goal for yourself. It could be anything from making three new connections, supporting a coworker, learning more about a new business venture or just simply to listen to a keynote speaker or presentation and share thoughts on it.
- Come up with some questions before the event. Having a few questions for different scenarios can make it easier to keep a conversation going. Come up with some basic get-to-know-you questions. Also, think of some topics about yourself that you would like to share.
- Allow yourself to recharge. Being social can be very draining. Allow yourself to take time to step out and take some alone time and get your energy back up for when you re-enter the event.