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Regardless of personality type, networking is key to professional success. It helps you broaden your opportunities, stay on top of trends, and gain fresh perspectives. There are many ways to network— you can attend online events, create custom corporate gifts, or give a keynote speech. However, one thing seems to hold true: extroverts have an easier time doing it.
So, what is an introvert to do? Below are our top five strategies.
1. Schedule one-on-one engagements
Although networking is difficult for many, that difficulty is doubled for introverts. Luckily, networking doesn’t need to be confined to keynote speaking and grand conferences. You can make equally meaningful connections with a more personalized approach, such as a focus on one-on-one interactions.
Consider expanding your network by meeting individuals over coffee or lunch. You can focus on building a genuine rapport with a few people, rather than settling for a lukewarm introduction to dozens of others. This focus on quality over quantity pays off in the end.
2. Prepare for events
One-to-one meetings are a great way to expand your professional network, but they aren’t always easy to set up. Sometimes, huge conferences or networking events are the only realistic way to get your name out there. Unfortunately, it’s also a realistic way of getting filled with anxiety.
To reduce that anxiety and make the most of every event, prepare yourself beforehand. Research who you’re likely to encounter, plan topics you want to address, memorize a list of questions to advance conversations, and have a few easy icebreakers in your back pocket. Finally, practice how you want to introduce yourself.
3. Set aside time to recharge
The main difference between introverts and extroverts isn’t that introverts are quiet and extroverts are loud. It’s more that introverts get drained from social interactions, while extroverts get charged up. Since networking events are full of social interaction, they often drain introverts.
To ensure you get the most out of the event, set aside some alone time to recharge. That may be an extended bathroom break, a walk around the building or a nearby park, or even a short drive to clear your mind. Whatever the specifics, set aside time to recharge so you can go back rejuvenated.
4. Network online
Although preparing for a conference or meeting one-on-one is great, they aren’t the only ways to network. You can, of course, network online. For many introverts, this is preferable because it reduces intimidation and allows them to clearly express themselves.
Look for industry-focused forums and virtual gatherings, or join professional communities on social media. All three will facilitate relationship-building without the need for in-person discomfort. That being said, bear in mind that it’s not a perfect solution. Ideally, you want to mix online networking with one-to-one meetings and larger events.
5. Talk about work
For extroverts, talking about sports, weather, and the basic details of your personal life is a breeze. For introverts, it’s a pain. They often overthink or stumble over answers. Luckily, people don’t attend networking events to learn about your favorite sports team. Instead, they do it to make professional connections. Introverts can use that to their advantage.
If you’re uncomfortable chatting about who you are, chat about what you do. Keep the conversation focused on past highlights and accomplishments, what you’re working on now, and what you hope to do in the future. This not only keeps you engaged and excited but also shows off the skills you have.
If you’re an introvert who needs to network, keep the above five tips in mind to overcome social challenges and build the professional relationships you deserve.