Woe is Me…the Introvert
Confession: I am never in the mood to attend networking events. Seriously. I’m not. And I really don’t think I ever will be. Yes, I’m well aware of why I should be attending. I’ve just never actually found myself looking forward to an event.
Face-to-face networking is fairly difficult for most people—at least in the beginning—and for those of us self-proclaimed introverts, it’s even harder.
We’d much rather be at home reading a book, staying far away from human civilization and of course…any event that requires us to actually speak to other people. It’s not that we’re shy…well, some of us are…but the other part of our group?—we just don’t want to talk. It’s draining and tedious.
What to do?
Honestly? It’s time we—yes, we, you and I both—snap out of it. The only way to get over our anxiety of networking is by actually networking. As with most things, the only way to get better and more comfortable with a task is to actually perform that task. Networking is no different.
Here are two realizations that really helped me snap out of my networking woes and become more comfortable with the process.
Quality is greater than Quantity
No, this doesn’t mean you go with a group of your friends. You’ll just spend the entire time never having met another person. Try taking one of your more extroverted friends and finding a group of 2-3 people. To make the process painless, stop stressing to meet dozens of people. If things don’t “click” with the first group, feel free to move on, but if you’re really enjoying a conversation, stay tuned in. Meeting a few quality contacts is far better than meet a dozen contacts with whom you had very brief conversations.
You don’t have to be Chatty Cathy
Really, you don’t. The best part about networking events is that many of the extroverted attendees will do the tough part for you: introductions. This is always the most intimidating part…actually meeting a new person. Say hello. Introduce yourself and enjoy the conversation. Be sure to have prepped a 15-30 second introduction about yourself covering what you do, what you have done, and your interests. If you don’t enjoy answering questions, be prepared to ask! If necessary, jot some quick questions down so that you’re prepared ahead of time in the event you’re feeling a little overwhelmed.
Easy way to skip Introductions
Volunteer for the sign-in process. Seriously, this is the quickest and biggest no-brainer when. Not only do you have to “meet” all those you sign in, it will ease you into talking to other people. Now, when you see them later in the event, you’ll have an initial talking point. “Hey, met you earlier on check-in. How are things going?” It’s really that easy. Your dreaded entry into conversation with a big, scary stranger has now been avoided. You’re welcome.
Bottom line: get out there and network.
If I can get out of my shell, you can too. With new people, I’m as introverted as one could be. It’s time to begin the process of extroverting yourself. With that being said, go forth and network.
Funny networking stories to share? Tell me in the comments below or find me on Twitter!