Networking for Introverts

How introverts can succeed in crowded events

I recently realised that I am an introvert. That means I have no problem speaking to people or approaching them. I even used to be in a drama group in school. And I always sang in choirs and solo on several stages and in front of the president. I also like hanging out with many people in a busy place.

But all that is draining energy from me, and that’s what makes me an introvert. Not that I am shy or not sure of myself. I just have to be on my own for a good while after a lot of exposure, in order to recharge my batteries. For extroverts it’s simply the other way round. They get energy from people and it drains them to be alone.

So what does an introvert do at a networking event?

I have started my entrepreneurial, or rather nontrepreneurial venture and challenged myself to take every opportunity to get away from the laptop screen and mingle with real people. That’s why I joined a networking happy hour. And it was horrible at first. Loud music, noisy chitchat, superficial small talk and no topics I was really interested in.

I tried to look for possible speakers for another entrepreneur event I am organising, but instead I just got business cards.

And then suddenly it changed.

From one second to the other, I started to really connect with a certain couple. I gave them advice. And they gave me a piece of their handmade soap. It was all due to a change of attitude.

So if you are an introvert and you want to network successfully, here are some hints:

  1. Have a goal

In my case it was finding a possible speaker for another event I am organising. I am a jane of many trades, so already introducing myself to all the different people over and over again exhausted me. Presenting myself as the organiser of another event and saying that I was looking for speakers opened the possibilities and always provided a topic to talk about.

  1. Be open

As much as I was looking for that speaker, the real magic happened when I let go of that goal and just tried to get to know the people. Some were simply not my type, others had interesting stories to tell and with one or two I definitely clicked. Being open and locking that little judge inside my head out for a while definitely helped.

  1. Be yourself

That’s the great thing about networking compared to job interviews. At a job interview you will bend your own self to the extent that it’s not you anymore, in order to fit the company’s wishes and be employed. At a networking meeting, you can just say who you truly are and get new opportunities and people who are interested in you because you are your real true self.

  1. Be helpful

When I shared the little knowledge about online marketing and social media strategies I have, I connected to a very interesting couple. They are currently struggling with their website and Facebook page and I was able to give my opinion. Another woman heard that I am a writer and asked if I could mentor her in writing. When I gave out the little knowledge I had, that’s when I really connected to people.

I still went home overwhelmed and tired, but it was good and healthy to strain me a bit and see how I as a nontrepreneur can expose myself and learn from such an event.

How do you deal with networking? Share your strategies and experiences in the comment below.

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