As we learn to live with the pandemic, in-person networking events are beginning to make a comeback.
While this is great news for the outgoing and confident, introverts may be less-than-thrilled at the prospect of networking IRL.
The truth? ANYONE can be great at networking; it’s a skill that can be honed by the gregarious and reserved alike. If you’re shy or plagued with social anxiety, here are three tips to help you connect with confidence:
More on introverts and networking:
1. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.
- Be reasonable. If you’re introverted, you’re not a social butterfly who will flit from group to group and collect 30 business cards an hour. Set a goal of making a handful of meaningful connections. Quality is often better than quantity when advancing your job search.
- Get introduced in advance. Ask mutual contacts to make introductions before the networking event, so you can walk into the room with a plan of whom you’d like to spend time with.
- Put conversation-starters in your back pocket. Have a few ice breakers and your personal “elevator pitch” ready to go. Preparing talking points is a great way to reduce networking anxiety.
2. Focus on listening.
After two years of being physically separated, many people can’t resist the temptation to talk incessantly about everything they’ve experienced since the pandemic began. Not you? That’s actually a GOOD thing. Believe it or not, you can stand out by keeping your mouth closed – and your ears open – when you’re in a conversation with a potential employer or recruiter.
Be present in the moment. Be honest – and let the person you’re speaking with know that you’re an introvert (embracing the awkwardness will take tremendous pressure off of you). Focus all of your attention on what they’re talking about. Ask great questions. Apply your active listening skills, and then reply intentionally – instead of trying to keep the spotlight focused on yourself. Not only will this be easier on you, it will create the favorable perception that you’re attentive, thoughtful, and professional.
3. Know how you recharge – and have a plan ready.
Introverts expend energy when they’re in the presence of others. To keep from wilting like a (wall)flower, take time to recharge. Different things work for different people, but here are a few ideas:
- Spend the evening before relaxing and get a good night’s sleep – so your energy stores are high
- Eat well and drink plenty of water
- Take a quick walk or a bathroom break if your stress levels rise
- Step outside for 5 minutes to call a friend or loved one
- Bring a friend with you to the event to network in parallel
- After the event, engage in an activity that recharges you
Bonus tip: Leverage digital and asynchronous networking.
Many introverts struggle with networking because interacting in real life and in real-time causes them anxiety. If you find face-to-face interaction paralyzing, skip the live events and maximize opportunities to connect in ways that suit you better:
- Social media
- Texting, when appropriate
Need a job that’s a great fit for your natural personality?
If your current job isn’t bringing out the best in you and playing to your strengths, it’s a great time to apply with PrideStaff. With a wide range of job opportunities across the nation, the right job is closer than you think.