The Absolutely! Guide to Networking for Introverts

Networking is one of the best ways of growing your business, allowing you to meet the new clients that you’re looking for. Networking is also important for career progression. Some people find it easy to do and love the idea of walking into a room full of strangers. If the very thought of this makes you want to run away and hide, fear not! Here’s our guide to networking for introverts!

Whatever business you’re in, there will be a place in it for networking. It could be about attending breakfast, lunch or evening networking events at which you can meet potential clients and tell them about your business. Or it might be about attending conferences and seminars to develop your skills in your industry, or find your next job. Whatever the reason, at some point in your working life, you’ll find yourself standing in the doorway of a room full of people all making small talk. How do you join in?

Some people are extroverts – outgoing, socially confident people who are gregarious, lively and people-oriented. For them, networking is a joy and comes naturally.

But what if you’re an introvert – someone who is a bit more shy and reticent? You might be very confident in your own skills and abilities, but once you’re outside your comfort zone and in a room full of people, it’s a different story. When you’re introverted, you don’t really like talking about yourself. There are four little words that will make networking much easier for you. Asking “And how about you?” allows you to keep the conversation going, by asking the question you’ve just been asked.

“What do you do?”

“I’m an accountant … and how about you?”

“Where have you come from today?”

“I live in London … and how about you?”

Another way to make networking easier is to pay more attention to body language and non-verbal signals. You don’t have to rely on just listening to what someone is saying. Focus on how they’re saying it. This makes joining conversations much easier – standing at the edge of the room or conversation is no fun!

For introverts, going networking will take you outside your comfort zone, so don’t be surprised if you feel tired when you get back from an event. Going outside your comfort zone takes you out of flow – the place where you are alive and energised. Networking – attending meetings and having good conversations with strangers – is not one of your energising strengths, so be kind to yourself. Schedule some ‘recovery’ time after a meeting, rather than rushing back to your desk and trying to carry on working at full power. Have a bit of downtime to reflect on how the event went and what went well.

Practice makes perfect; it also makes things easier. If networking is an essential part of your work, keep practising it and you will find that you become more and more comfortable doing it.

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