If I am an introvert, how can I make the most of networking?

Networking events can be daunting for introverts, but with the right approach, they can also be incredibly rewarding. As an introvert, you possess unique strengths such as exceptional listening skills and the ability to form deep, meaningful connections. The challenge often lies in taking the first step and entering the room. In this article, I will share some practical tips to help you feel more confident and make the most of networking opportunities.

Reach Out to the Networking Organiser

Connecting with the event organiser beforehand can be immensely helpful. Most organisers appreciate knowing if someone feels apprehensive about attending. Whether your concerns are about facing a room full of strangers, delivering your 60-second pitch, or interacting with new people, discussing these with the organiser can be beneficial. They can offer you support and practical advice on how to navigate the event. Often, organisers can provide tips in advance or even introduce you to key attendees to help ease your nerves.

Remember: Everyone is There for the Same Reason

It’s comforting to know that everyone at a networking event is there to make business connections. If you’re feeling nervous, remind yourself that others are likely feeling the same way. People attend these events with the hope of meeting new contacts, so they are generally supportive and eager to engage with you.

Do Some Research in Advance

A little preparation can go a long way in boosting your confidence. Before the event, ask the organiser if you can get a list of attendees. Research their businesses and look them up on social media. Familiarizing yourself with who will be in the room can make the environment feel less intimidating and help you identify potential connections. Knowing a bit about the attendees in advance can also give you conversation starters, making it easier to engage when you meet them.

Embrace Your Anxieties

Feeling anxious about a networking event is entirely normal. When you arrive, don’t hesitate to mention your feelings to the person at the reception. Many organisers are adept at introducing newcomers to friendly faces who can help you feel more comfortable. Networking events are designed to be inclusive, and most people are more than willing to help newcomers settle in.

Prepare Your One-Minute Pitch

If the event involves delivering a pitch, preparing in advance is crucial. A well-thought-out pitch can significantly reduce anxiety and help you communicate more effectively. If you’re unsure how to craft a compelling pitch, don’t hesitate to ask the organiser for guidance. Knowing what you want to convey and practicing your pitch can make a big difference in how you present yourself.

Try Out Different Types of Events

For some introverts, knowing exactly what to expect and having a more structured event can be best for them. For example, group-based regular networking offer a regular event that follows the same routine at each and every session, just like our N90 groups.

However, for some introverts getting to networking, a more relaxed option can feel better. That’s where events that are regularly held but at perhaps different locations or following different structures can feel better. These events may invite open networking, which admittedly can feel a bit daunting for introverts, or others will have a good facilitator who will organise networking connections in a more relaxed format. That’s why we have our IWant2Network events, which provide opportunities to pick and choose different events, while keeping a gentle facilitation to the structure.

Finally, speed networking events, just like speed dating, are in between the two styles – structured as you will be put into mini-121s, and open as you will be holding conversations with people, rather than standing up and pitching to a room.

Set Clear Objectives

Understanding what you want to achieve from the networking event can help focus your efforts and reduce anxiety. Are you looking to make a certain number of new contacts, learn about specific industries, or find potential clients? Having clear goals can guide your interactions and make the event feel more purposeful.

Leverage Your Strengths

Remember, as an introvert, you have valuable qualities that can make networking easier. Your ability to listen attentively and connect deeply with others is a significant advantage. Use these skills to build meaningful relationships rather than aiming for superficial interactions.

Follow Up

After the event, take the time to follow up with the people you met. A brief message on LinkedIn or an email can help solidify the connections you made and open the door for future interactions.

In conclusion, while networking may seem challenging for introverts, with a bit of preparation and the right mindset, it can be a highly rewarding experience. Embrace your unique strengths, prepare thoroughly, and remember that everyone is there to connect and grow. With these tips, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate any networking event with confidence.