The Introvert's Guide To Networking
While browsing one of my favorite websites, The Everygirl, I found this little nugget of brilliance regarding networking. This article wasn’t the same old spiel about what to wear or how many business cards to have on hand. Nope, this was all about how to network when you’re an introvert.
If you’re an introvert, networking might seem like a nightmare. Full of small talk and socializing, you can often leave a networking event feeling drained and determined to never set foot at a “Small Business Happy Hour” ever again.
This can pose a problem. After all, you’ve got to network to get work. For many, attending these events and rubbing elbows with peers and leaders in your industry is a major part in advancing your career. The fact of the matter is, it often doesn’t matter how hard you work at the office if you don’t put yourself out there and make some meaningful career connections. Sigh.
That’s why this article is so brilliant. Introverts avoid any kind of interaction or conversation that is shallow or meaningless, favoring a smaller but closer network to collecting tons of acquaintances. Though it might seem counterintuitive, this can work to their advantage in the networking setting. Here are the main points I gathered to help all you Happy Gracers that fall on the more introverted side of the spectrum.
Relationships are Key
Quality over quantity. Before you attend a networking event, do your research and learn a little bit about what kind of professionals will be in attendance. Focus on making one quality connection instead of trying to work the entire room. You should look at these opportunities first and foremost as a way to build a relationship with someone who can provide guidance, support or career advancement.
Good Listeners Wanted
With a room full of people shoving business cards in your face, your listening skills can be a breath of fresh air to many movers and shakers. People love talking about themselves, so skip the small talk on your end and ask meaningful, open-ended questions. You’ll get more out of the conversation than their opinion on the weather!
Master the Art of the Exit
There’s no need to capture someone’s attention for the whole event. Make the connection, find valuable common ground and move on strategically. Ask them to continue your conversation over coffee next week. It’s a great way to keep it short and sweet while laying the foundation for a lasting professional relationship.
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