8 Networking Tips For Introverts
By Jacqueline Whitmore, author of "Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals" They say it’s who you know that counts, which is what makes networking events so appealing to most people. But what if you’re an introvert? What if you’re not good in social situations? Are you doomed from ever excelling in business because it’s hard for you to meet the right people? The most effective networking takes place when you are willing to tithe your social capital. In other words, look for opportunities to be of service to others instead of thinking about how they can meet your needs. With a little planning and the right approach, introverts can do just as well at networking events as their extroverted peers. Here are some helpful hints to expand your sphere of influence and form solid, mutually beneficial business relationships:
1. Manage expectations.Don’t psych yourself out with unrealistic expectations that you have to meet as many people as possible. Remember, one quality conversation is more beneficial than 20 superficial ones.
2. Be Prepared.If you know whom you’ll be meeting ahead of time, find out as much you can about that person. Plan ahead and prepare some icebreakers. Open-ended questions spur interesting conversations. Ask questions like, “How long have you been a member of the host organization?” or “What’s your favorite part of your job?” When all else fails, most everyone loves to talk about food and travel.
3. Set a time limit.The secret to success is showing up. You don’t have to stay at an event for hours to have a good time. But do give yourself time to adjust to the environment and talk to one or two people. If you find yourself having a good time, stay longer.
4. Find a connector.If there’s a particular person you’d like to meet, try to find a common connection and request an introduction. Most people feel more comfortable with an introduction from a common acquaintance than approaching someone out of the blue.
5. Practice empathetic listening.Introverts are usually fantastic listeners. Because most people are better at talking than listening, you’ll stand out as someone who values others and is fully involved in the conversation. Don’t rush or hurry the conversation. Be wholly and fully present and you’ll be long remembered for this.
6. Exchange personal stories.Most people get tired of talking about business topics. In order to get to know someone, you must connect on a personal level. Ask others about their interests and hobbies. One story will lead to another and another and eventually you will discover commonalities. Stories also help people remember you.
7. Network with those you know.Take advantage of everyday opportunities to network. At the office, take small breaks to walk around and casually socialize with your colleagues. Once a week, invite a colleague to join you for lunch or coffee.
8. Practice makes perfect.Networking is not a numbers game; it’s not about how many business cards you pass out or collect. It’s not about how many products you can sell or whom you can instantly impress. The more you do it, the more confortable you will feel. Proper networking is a gradual process of making genuine connections with people and cultivating those relationships for the long term. Jacqueline Whitmore is an internationally recognized etiquette expert, the founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach and the author of "Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals". For more etiquette tips, visit her website: www.EtiquetteExpert.com or her blog: www.JacquelineWhitmore.com.
This is an article contributed to Young Upstarts and published or republished here with permission. All rights of this work belong to the authors named in the article above.