By Samantha Thompson
Does the thought of bustling networking events with large groups of people (even pre-COVID) overwhelm you? Do you cringe when thinking about having to start conversations with total strangers? As an introvert, your first thought might be to skip all networking events and focus on hard work alone to advance your career. However, networking is critical to our professional success and it’s not just for extroverts. Networking is not inalterable, there are other ways to do it to fit your personality. Check out our top three tips below for networking as an introvert.
1. Prioritize connecting over collecting
When most people think of networking, they think of being in constant contact, meeting as many people as they can, or putting yourself out there as much as possible. However, when it comes to relationship building, there is a strength introverts have that many people overlook – maintaining relationships. Rather than having a goal to meet as many people as you can, try meeting fewer people to make connections and dive into deeper conversations. Instead of asking “What do you do?” try asking questions like “What are you most excited about right now?” or “Have you achieved any goals lately?”. Making meaningful connections also helps you stand out.
2. Be prepared
Along with making fewer connections at large events, try doing research ahead of time on who will be there. Identify 1-2 people you feel you would benefit most from connecting with and spend your time networking with them. Researching ahead of time will help you gather questions prior to the encounter, so you feel confident and more organized in the conversation.
3. Balance your schedule
Introverts work best when they have alone time to recharge. Don’t try to push yourself into too much socialization if your battery is low. Spending time alone to decompress will help you think more clearly and gain energy. If your boss or co-workers invite you to dinner or a large event after a stressful long week at work, try rescheduling or asking for one-on-one time, whether it’s coffee, lunch or grabbing a drink another day.
Again, networking isn’t only a fit for extroverts. Introverts have many strengths extroverts can learn from, such as active listening, maintaining relationships and connecting with others. Be sure to have networking fit your style and personality!
The author is Project Coordinator at CAS and is a member of the Columbus Leadership Council. Connect with her on LinkedIn.