Introvert or extrovert, networking has the potential to be a hellish affair. Nothing ruins the appeal of prosecco and miniature chocolate tarts, than the knowledge you’ve got to turn a room full of strangers into a web of contacts.
Whether it be the dreaded fake laugh, the choking on a drink or a getting someone’s name wrong, every one of us has been in a networking situation so awful we’ve wanted the world to swallow us up.
Nonetheless, there’s no denying that on the surface the whole set-up does seem to be the natural home of the extrovert. And we’ve all seen the specially skilled social butterfly at work- within ten minutes of entering the room, their carefully crafted anecdote about how they bumped into Hugh Grant in Sainsbury’s has earnt them a bag full of business cards, a few wedding invitations and maybe even a couple of godchildren.
This really is just one way to network, however, and the key to networking and building relationships is finding a way of communicating which shows off your best qualities.
Here are five ways to network as an introvert.
1) Use your listening skills
Listening is probably one of the most underrated skills there is today. There’s a misjudgement that communicating is all about speaking but this is far from the truth. People enjoy speaking to people that are actually listening to what they are saying. Whilst everyone else is falling over themselves to speak, staying silent and listening to the conversations means that you are able to gage things that those speaking aren’t. If you are then able to say something perspective and thought-out, this is definitely likely to make people want to get to know you further.
2) Buddy up with an extrovert
I’ve heard it said that if you are looking for a business partner you should look for someone who is the opposite of yourself. This can also apply to networking. Whilst your extroverted buddy may be great at starting conversations, they might not be so good at speaking to someone more in-depth. So working together can be great in this situation. Allow your extroverted friend to make the introduction, and then allow them to leave whilst you progress the conversation.
3) Don’t be afraid to be genuine
As I said before, everyone can find networking hard at times. It can be awkward. Showing discomfort or admitting to this, is a lot better than trying to do your best Jennifer Lawrence impression.
This doesn’t have to be done in a gloomy way at all. You could be speaking to someone and say something like, “I find it so difficult to speak to so many people at once, would you like to grab a coffee at some stage so we can speak properly?”. They will more than likely respect your honesty, and view you as a genuine person.
4) See it as a long-term game
Networking is often about building long-term relationships, and first impressions really aren’t everything. If you aren’t the most socially charming but deliver and are skilled at what you do, then people will want to know you.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone you have worked with to introduce you and recommend you to people they may know. If you have proved to them that you are trustworthy and reliable, the odds are they will be more than happy to introduce you to people in their network.
5) Use LinkedIn and other social media
The great news with LinkedIn and other social media is that they provide the perfect platform for introverts to shine. Keep your online profile up to date and highlight anything you have done well or any skills that you have learnt.
A lot of introverts are often extremely talented at expressing themselves in things like writing or photography. Use the internet to showcase your talents.
Any tips on networking?