Hey, introvert. Feeling overwhelmed? Try these cringe-free networking tips and you’ll be working the room in no time!
If you’re an introvert at a networking event, chances are you’re looking for a table to hide under.
I totally get it… Networking can be realllly awkward sometimes. And since most networking events revolve around sitting with a table full of strangers and making small talk, it’s no wonder that many of us cringe.
But networking isn’t going away – and as important as it is to make connections with your fellow entrepreneurs, you owe it to yourself (and your business) to get out there and get connected.
Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or something in-between, here are a couple of easy ways to overcome your most common networking woes.
Scared of Small Talk?
We’re right there with you. For introverts, conducting polite, non-specific small talk can be about as fun as getting a root canal. It’s not that we don’t want to talk to people, it’s just that conversations about the weather leave us feeling a little cold.
We know it’s not practical to launch into a deep, philosophical conversation with a stranger (at least not in most settings). So do yourself a favor and keep a few easy-to-chat-about topics in your back pocket.
The important thing is to align these topics with your area of interest so that the ensuing conversation feels natural. For example, if you’re bookish, ask what someone is reading lately.
When You Find Yourself Getting Talked Over
This totally happens to me at networking events, and I hate it.
As introverts, we tend to at least try to think before we speak, which means we may tend to speak less than our more extroverted counterparts. Also, since it’s our first instinct to listen quietly when people talk, we may let ourselves be interrupted more often.
So how do you stop getting talked over?
It’s actually pretty easy: When someone starts speaking over you, don’t stop talking. It sounds simple and obvious, but you’d be surprised how long it took me to realize that I was allowed not to let someone interrupt me. (Crazy, I know.)
Feeling Drained by Networking Events
I’m right there with you. Even if I’m having fun, crowds can be tiring – especially when you’re spending time with a group of strangers. If you find your energy flagging in the middle of a networking event, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are some ways to set yourself up for success.
First things first, choose your networking events carefully. Make sure that an event will be worth your time and energy. We get it – sometimes you just don’t know until you get there, but doing a little research will go a long way in making sure it’s a good crowd for you.
On the day of an event, try to manage your energy. If you know you’ll be spending the afternoon at a networking event, make some quiet time for yourself in the morning.
During the event, if you still find yourself in need of a pick-me-up, I’ve got just the thing for you: Take a moment for yourself and hang out in a bathroom stall to collect your thoughts. Seriously. No one will think twice if you disappear for a few minutes to “freshen up,” and you can return to the meeting with a new spring in your step.
Networking can be intimidating, but think of it this way: Being an introvert at a networking event can actually help you create more (and deeper) professional connections.
As an introvert, you’re more inclined to listen carefully and really pay attention to whomever you speak with. At a networking event where it seems like everyone wants their voice heard, your awesome listening skills can really make you stand out.
Networking may not seem like a natural fit for introverts, but with a little work, you’ll be working the room in no time!
About Feliza David, Creative Director
Think of Feliza as LEAP’s very own Don Draper, except without the hard partying. (The only thing she binges on is Netflix.) From tool reviews to learning modules to eye-catching graphics, Feliza probably had her hand in it.
She loves LEAP because:
Feliza lives in Indiana with her husband, two dogs, one cat, and the occasional goldfish. When she’s not writing, drawing, or reading, she’s probably sleeping.