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Do you find the prospect of networking a little daunting? Here are six ultra-specific networking tips for introverts from recruiter Andrew Ellis to help you.
“Find safety in numbers.”
Take your comfort zone with you by networking in pairs or even larger groups. Going to these events with someone you know can help you by bouncing conversations off each other and feeling supported if you start to feel stressed or uncomfortable. Tag your partner in if you’re struggling.
“Don’t assume others are confident.”
It helps to understand that the person (or people) you’re speaking to will probably feel just as awkward as you do, or they have done at some point in the past. The person you’re speaking to may appear confident enough, but they could be feeling just as uncomfortable as you. How would you know? Remember, you’re not alone in this situation and you can even make a joke about it as an effective and endearing ice-breaker.
Quantify your efforts by setting achievable targets, for example, meeting with five new people every month. There won’t be a negative outcome from meeting people as it’s a numbers game. As soon as the first referral drops in your confidence will be sky high and you’ll wonder why you’ve only just started.
“Set the tone.”
If you worry about what to say in conversations, shift the onus on to your acquaintance by asking questions. This means you can relax and practice your listening skills – something you’re probably very good at. Showing a genuine interest in the person you’re talking to, will certainly make you one of the more memorable people in the room. When the topic of conversation eventually turns to you, talk about your career achievements and goals instead of your personal life. This will help you feel much more comfortable which, in turn, will show and make you more likeable.
“You don’t have to be perfect.”
Introverts often drive themselves crazy over social situations that extroverts wouldn’t think twice about. There is no perfect way to interact with another human being and worrying excessively about it certainly isn’t going to help you. Realize that even bad meetings bring opportunities to learn and hone your approach so there really is no need to worry or overthink on every social encounter. People won’t remember what you say; they’ll remember how you made them feel. So be friendly, be helpful and don’t try to be perfect.
“And finally… Smile.”
What better way to start a conversation? People will see you as more approachable and you’ll be the person that pops up in an acquaintance’s thoughts when they’re racking their brain for someone to refer – people remember a smile.
What are your favourite networking tips for introverts?