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But First Off, What is an Introvert?
An introvert is:
“A term introduced by the psychologist Carl Jung to describe a person whose motives and actions are directed inward. Introverts tend to be preoccupied with their own thoughts and feelings and minimize their contact with other people. “
Do Your Homework Before You Go to a Networking Event
Look to see where the event is being held. It is important to know what kind of atmosphere is being held in, what the appropriate dress is, and whether it is a formal or more informal type of event. This helps overcome any anxiety that can happen when introverts are forced to talk to others. (Said from experience…trust me)
Further, prepare ahead of time. What are your goals for going to this event? Is there a specific person or persons with a special skill set you intend to find? The best way to do this is to make a plan ahead of time so you have a purpose for going. If I don't have purposes for going to events, I am more likely to back out beforehand. Looking up a few of the people that might be there is a great idea. Check out their LinkedIn profile and find out if this person might be a good person to find at the event.
Remember, the true key to networking is quality over quantity. It is best to leave with a few meaningful connections than a dozen business cards that get tossed in a drawer when you get home.
Take a Fellow Introvert With You
For me, bringing another person to networking events helps me in a few ways. One, it helps hold me accountable for going. If I know someone is relying on me to go with them then I am less likely to back out. Secondly, it is a bit of a security blanket. You don’t have to stick next to each other while you are there. (I don’t suggest it). Knowing there is someone there to help break the ice together can be a great comfort.
Find other Introverts or Find an Empty Seat
Find other fellow introverts – If you don’t go to an event with someone, find someone else who is being quiet or is sitting next to an empty seat. Not only will you be finding one of your own kind, but you wln't be left all alone either. It is a win-win!
Network Often – It is a Skill You Use or Lose
I personally get into a rut when I don’t leave the house for a few days. It is extremely easy to not have sunlight touch your face for days when you work at home. (Don’t judge!) But the more I make myself get out and talk with people in an unfamiliar environment the easier it becomes. I try to get out of the house a few times a week and talk to three people I don't know. If I stop making a habit of it, I have to work up to it all over again.
Ask Others About Themselves to Find Similar Interests
Lastly, if you don’t know what to say or how to continue a conversation, ask people about themselves. Not only do you learn about them but people love to talk about themselves. People who ask about other’s lives are seen as nicer people who are caring and genuine. This makes the conversation more smoothly and a great way to find something you have in common!