Let’s admit it – whatever industry you’re in, networking is essential. The thing about it though is that it might be easy for some to interact with a group, but this can be quite challenging to others, especially if you’re an introvert.
When it comes to networking, introverts would rather be at home, curled up with a captivating book. They would even be grateful if the book itself was about networking – at least that would be more enjoyable than having to go to an actual networking event!
As a facilitator for MenPowerment, I can hear these concerns from introverts. Over the years, I have worked with different people, some of whom are introverts.
So how do you network at an event if you are an introvert? Here are some tips that I can offer:
1. Arrive early for the event
If you come in early for the event, chances are the crowd is still smaller and you’ll find this to be less intimidating. There’s also a good chance you’ll end up talking to someone before the crowd comes in.
If you arrive early, by the time things are in full swing, you’re likely to be in your networking groove. Also, this will allow you to find a comfortable spot.
2. Ask questions
You can let the extroverts do the talking and instead do what you’re usually good at: listening. Bring in some interesting questions, such as: ‘How did you get started in your career?’ or ‘What kind of projects are you working on right now?’. The key thing is be genuine. Have an interest in what the other person is saying.
3. Don’t aim to talk to everyone
Crowds can drain energy from introverts. That’s why they’ll spend less time at an event and need to make the most of every conversation. Take it easy. No one is expecting you to talk to everyone.
Also, ‘It’s useful before an event to learn a little bit about the people who will be there,’ advises Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and founder of Quiet Revolution.
4. Look for opportunities beyond the actual event
Instead of working in a room full of people, introverts might be more comfortable to get involved on the planning side.
If you’ve spot something that interests you, reach out to organisers and ask if they need help, such as checking people in or handing out name tags. In these roles, you will have an opportunity to meet plenty of incoming attendees and can quickly ask for a business card to open the door for a future meeting.
5. Learn the art of graceful exit
Finally, when you think you had already enough of the event, gracefully leave the place. Assure your host that the event was a blast by pointing at what you love about it. For example, mention the food the you found appetising. You can also throw a compliment over how hilarious the guests are.
Plumping the host up a bit with love will assure them you’re not leaving because the soiree is not good enough – it’s just time for you to leave.
Join us at the MenPowerment Power Dinner
Are you an introvert? Put these tips into practice as we invite you to join us on our networking dinner this Friday 5th April at Zen Buddha in Edgware.
We’ll have lots of fun and learning from 7.30pm–10.30pm. Head over to our Eventbrite page for details.
Dev Modi is a Chartered Business Psychologist who has helped 1000 of leaders across the biggest brands around the world to achieve greatness.