I am totally an introvert. The thought of going to a networking event used to make me want curl up in my bed with anxiety. I would register then at the last minute decide to back out.
Being introverted is often misperceived. It doesn’t mean we aren’t able to hold a conversation or network. It means we might need some recharge time after the event to fill ourselves back up.
What is Networking?
The definition of networking is “the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.”
Networking is all about building relationships. It’s allows you to develop intentional connections with people that will help grow your career. The best way to open up business opportunities is to put yourself out there through networking.
6 Tips on Networking for Introverts
You don’t have to attend every single networking event out there. In order to get the most out of it choose the right events and go into it prepared. With a clear understanding of what networking is all about, anyone, including YOU, can develop a great network. Hopefully, these six tips on networking for introverts will be helpful for you.
Set a Realistic Goal
You don’t have to go into a networking event planning to meet every single person in the room. Set a realistic goal of people who you will make meaningful connections with and what you hope to get out of the event.
As introverts, we like to be more intentional so this is a great way to build your network with people you will actually build a relationship with. When you go in with realistic goals and a game plan, you will confidently go in knowing exactly what you want to gain from the event.
Do Your Research
If there is an attendance list, do your research of who will be in the room. Get an idea of their backgrounds so you can start the conversation and ask questions about them.
Bring an Ally
If you don’t feel comfortable going alone, make sure you have a friend or colleague that will be there to support you and introduce you to new relationships. Tell your friend what you are looking for in the networking event and have them make the connections. This will help ease up your anxiety and find commonalities between shared acquaintances.
As you do this more and more, you will get to be comfortable because you know you can count on someone you know being there.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Prepare a few questions and conversation starters ahead of time. Use ”what” and ”how” questions to drive the conversation. Here are some examples of open-ended questions:
- How did you get started in nonprofits?
- How did you hear about ”XXX networking event?”
- What motivates you?
- How have you been doing/feeling in your current role?
- What projects are you working on or do you have coming up?
- What do you like to do outside of work?
Use Active Listening
As an introvert, one of our greatest strengths is active listening. People love to talk about themselves and share their stories. Show you truly value someone by being fully present and putting on those active listening ears. Use short verbal acknowledgements to let them know you are listening. Restate back what you heard so they know you are listening and drive the conversation forward. Plus, you will be able to follow up and build the relationship long after the event.
Exercise Self-Compassion as an Introvert
One of my coaches/mentors would say get rid of your ”itty bitty shitty” committee. Exercise self-compassion so that you show up as yourself. Recognize and nurture your introverted self. You deserve to be in that room and share what you have to offer!
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain is an awesome book to help you unlock your superpowers as an introvert. I have found that many of our strengths as introverts actually make us well positioned for nonprofits and networking events.
What tips do you have to prepare for networking events? Let me know in the comments below.