Very few people can see a connection between networking and introverts. Many have the impression that networking is a forte of extroverts, who bask in the limelight of attention, energised by people around them. At the other end of the spectrum is the introvert, preferring very much to be by himself in a corner with a cup of coffee in hand, hoping nobody will strike up a conversation with him.
Practical Networking Tips
The truth is that you do not have to pretend to be extroverted to succeed at professional networking. You do not have to pretend to like the company of someone who has been blabbering for more than 5 minutes about how good his business is doing. You do not have to feel stressed about making small talk with others when you attend a networking session.
Business networking allows you to explore new opportunities with people you meet, leverage on one another and even build business partnerships to propel forward. Contrary to popular belief, you can be an introvert and still use business networking as a platform to stay ahead in your career and business.
I am going to share 3 easy tips to help you more than get by the next business networking event:
1. Prepare your Self-Introduction. One of the biggest stressors from business networking comes from being poorly prepared. Do not be caught in a situation where you get so anxious about making a first impression that you end up fumbling for words when introducing yourself. Take some time before the meeting and think about how you would like others to perceive you. My best advice is to write short and simple sentences about your role in your company, and what the company does. For example, “I am John Tan, the Director of ABC Company and we provide IT solutions to SMEs.” Rehearse this in front of the mirror as often as you like. You can also run this by a trusted co-worker for constructive feedback. Now, even when you walk into the room and start to feel the jitters, you would already have a well-rehearsed script in mind to help you get started.
2. Ask sincere questions about the other person. One of the things that introverts are weak at is making small talk. They dislike this because it can feel patronising and they would much rather get straight to the point. You do not have to stress yourself over questions to ask, such as talking about the weather or about some recent news headline (unless, of course it is of genuine interest to you). Instead, you may want to cut to the chase and ask them about themselves. Some suggestions:
- How long have you been in this business/industry?
- What sort of business referrals are you looking for?
- What is the best or most challenging part of your job?
Be yourself. Ask questions that will help you get to know the other person better, and be genuine about it! Sincerity can be felt at the onset.
3. Politely excuse yourself if you do not want to remain in the conversation. Most of us do not like to be rude and interrupt someone talking. Simply remind yourself that you are at the event for a purpose – to seek out new opportunities and establish mutually beneficial business relationships. You are definitely not there to entertain others. If you find yourself getting bored, or do not seem to have any interest in what the other party is saying, thank him for sharing. Tell him that you are keen on meeting others in the room.
Authentic Connection Wins The Day
Business networking allows you to explore new opportunities with people you meet, leverage on one another and even build business partnerships to propel forward. Contrary to popular belief, you can be an introvert and still use networking as a platform to stay ahead in your career and business. You do not have to fake it to make it during any networking interaction.
You deserve the right to enjoy connecting with people, just the way you are.
Article first published in LinkedIn