Being an introvert at work has a unique set of challenges. From water cooler gossip to presentations and meetings, it’s hard to find the perfect balance between staying true to yourself and being a team player.
If you’re actively looking for a job, however, networking can be downright exhausting. It’s possible to land a job without having to put yourself out there, but so much of it comes down to who you know, and not what you know.
Before you head out to the next happy hour mixer, give yourself some time to work up to it. Networking becomes easier the more you do it, so you’ll be able to train yourself to be a pro over time. We’ve rounded up seven of the best networking tips for introverts to help get you started.
If a bustling room full of strangers seems intimidating, there’s no need to spike your anxiety and dive right into the deep end. As an introvert, subjecting yourself to this situation seems out of the question, but not all networking events are so intense. Take the time to research smaller, more intimate gatherings in advance to find ones more suited to your preferences. Some organizers will even post a guest list of attendees so you’ll be able to gauge how large the event will be.
Clear Your Mind
Try to slow your anxious thoughts before you leave to shake off the apprehension of meeting new people. If visualization techniques work for you, picture yourself at a fun event with several new, friendly contacts by your side. A successful networking event is possible, even probable when you can envision it.
Have a Plan
A clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish at an event helps ease apprehension. Whether you need a job, have a product to sell or are just looking to meet like-minded people, be clear about what you’re bringing to the table. Practice making introductions with a friend so you’ll have an idea what you could say to break the ice, but make sure you’re not reciting a script.
Listen With Intent
When you’re meeting new people, others respond well to good listeners. Make sure you listen carefully when making introductions, and use new acquaintance’s names naturally to show that you’re engaged in the conversation. Asking follow-up questions also shows that you’re interested while also taking the focus off of you.
Keep It Short and Sweet
Most of the time, there’s no need for you to stay at an event for the entire duration. You won’t overstay your welcome, and you’ll likely not leave exhausted. Arriving on the early side can help you ease your way into a groove as other networkers enter. Try to talk to several people from various backgrounds rather than just zeroing in on one person. And if you reach an awkward point in a conversation, politely excuse yourself to the restroom or snack platter and don’t look back.
Find Common Ground
Talking about your kids, hobbies, favorite band or your shared interests makes you relatable to your new acquaintances. Strictly sticking to business-only topics can feel robotic, but make sure you stay professional and positive.
Remember That People Are Just People
Even the most eccentric business professionals can relate to one another on a basic human level. Don’t feel like you’re there to put on a show; you’ll have an easier time with a natural, relatable introduction.
It’s natural to be nervous before a function filled with people you don’t know, but they’re likely feeling similar to your situation. Try to relax, and know that you’re free to leave whenever you’ve had enough socializing.