Whether you are trying to land a job or grow your company it is all about who you know. So who do you know?
If you are scrambling to put a list together of contacts you actually know beyond your LinkedIn account, take a deep breath and let’s talk networking. Networking events are an amazing tool to reach people that share your similar interests and can generate good resources to help you become successful. There is nothing that beats a face-to-face conversation and human connection!
Networking can be intimidating for anybody, but for introverts, it can be especially unbearable. Here are a few tips to ease the pain of face-to-face conversations and walk out of the building with a smile on your face and a stack of business cards in your hand.
Set A Goal
At any sort of event, set a goal and make a game plan in advance. First, decide how many people you want to talk to. Whether you choose one or five people, set your number and stick to it. After that, consider a game plan for how you want to navigate the room. Maybe you are more comfortable with a drink in your hand, so starting at the bar makes sense for you, or maybe for you, standing at a table feels like home. Make that decision and start in an area you are most comfortable with, then let your conversations carry you around the room.
Body language can welcome or seriously turn people off from approaching you. Smile when you are at any type of event. Don’t cross your arms and definitely don’t stand in the corner by the wall. Looking approachable means you don’t have to be the one walking up to others. Sometimes, they’ll naturally flock to you.
Control the Conversation
An introvert controlling the conversation? Seems absurd, right? There’s a difference between controlling the conversation and talking the whole time. A majority of people like to talk about themselves and their interests, so focus the conversation on the other person. Asking the simplest questions or even complimenting someone on their attire can keep them talking so you don’t have to. This gives you an opportunity to listen and learn how this person could be a good contact and also allows you to leave the conversation when it’s dying or you’re ready to move on.
At some point, you need to speak up and the best time is when someone asks you about your career. When they ask, don’t just tell them your job title. So, you’re a photographer? How about a “photographer who’s had an opportunity to shoot a variety of events and has created a recognized brand with an online portfolio of your work”? This opens the door for you to share your work and give them a card so they can follow up with you. Don’t brush off your skills; be confident in what you do.
Being an introvert can make working through a room full of people difficult, but remember, just by being there, you’re working smarter not harder. Let the people you meet be the ones spreading the word about you! Attending networking events is an invaluable way to reach stakeholders and make contacts. Although you might feel nervous walking in, the moment you walk out the door with even one person’s card, you will have a new confidence in yourself and will be ready to rock another event in the future!
featured image credit: Stock That Rocks