7 Networking Tips For Introverts
This past Sunday a group of Orlando bloggers gathered at Crafted Block & Brew for Blogger Babes Who Brunch, hosted my friend Bianca. Since moving here, I have been terrible about getting out to meet new people. After about a year of Bianca trying to get me out of the house to meet fellow local bloggers, I've finally started to leave my nest and make it a point to connect with other like minded women. Yup, I've been living here since last summer and this is only my second time venturing out, God bless Bianca for never giving up on me, ha! Over brunch, we did a fun ice breaker that was similar to speed dating, got to know each other and exchanged lots of blogging tips.
I really wanted to name this post "How To Network As An Introvert When You Lowkey Would Rather Stay Home To Watch Netlfix And Talk To Yourself"...but then I thought, that might be a bit much. No? Networking can be the bane of your existence if you're an introvert like me. After lots of practice over the years, I got into a good flow in South Florida, but having to start over here in Orlando seemed overwhelming. While I would rather stay home and over analyze my life, I've come to realize that networking is just one of those necessary things you have to do as an adult. I mean, you don't have to, but the fact of the matter is that "your network determines your net worth". I forgot who said that, but it's true. Oftentimes it isn't what you know, but who you know. Once I got serious about blogging, I realized that I'd have to actually leave my house and talk to other human beings if I expected it to go anywhere. For my fellow introverts, it's possible to gather meaningful connections without anxiety, here's how:
1. Bring A Friend With You //
New experiences are always less intimidating when you have a safety blanket with you, in this case, someone you're familiar with. However, be sure to bring a friend or colleague who won't embarrass you. I know this sounds a little harsh but you'll be meeting a lot of people for the first time. You are the company you keep so be sure that if you bring someone, that will be a good reflection of you. You'll feel a lot more relaxed that you already know someone and they may even help you with awkward introductions if they're more social than you are.
2. Be A Good Listener //
One of the benefits to being an introvert is that because you're so nervous to talk, you tend to be a good listener. Whoever you're talking to will really appreciate this. People love to talk about themselves, so if you're taking the opportunity to listen and your body language shows that you're genuinely interested, the person you're speaking to will become very comfortable with you. It makes you more likable and when you're likable, people tend to throw opportunities your way if you're a good fit.
3. Prepare Go-To Questions //
One of the things that intimidates us about networking is the fear of feeling that we're going to trip over our words during conversations. My suggestion is to have a couple go-to questions ready that you can organically insert into a conversation without sounding like a robot. For example:
"How did you get started?"
"How did you overcome that?"
"Wow, that's really interesting!" <<< not a questions, but always effective
The key here is to be genuine. If you say, "Wow this is really interesting" but your face indicates that you don't actually care, this isn't effective networking. It's ok to excuse yourself from a conversation if it doesn't align with your interests or if the person you're speaking to is boring you to death. Be nice about it of course.
4. Cool It On The Alcohol Shawty //
Networking events shouldn't be confused for being at the bar with your friends. Do not go into it with the mentality that throwing back a couple drinks will suddenly transform you into an extrovert and the life of the party. You're there to be professional and connect with others. If alcohol is served at the event, keep it to a minimum. There are always eyes on you even when you think no one is paying attention. At 28 years old, I just recently started enjoying the occasional drink (typically a mimosa at brunch), but because drinking is not my thing, anything past 1 glass is too much for me. In an effort not to end up a giggling fool, I had just one glass of champagne at Bianca's brunch so that I could keep it cute and professional.
5. Quality Over Quantity //
If you're going to a large networking event, keep in mind that you don't have to talk to everybody. Quality over quantity my friend! If you know who will be in attendance, make an advanced list of who you want to meet. Be sure not to only focus on the big names at the events. Get to know assistants, as well as they're typically the gate keeper to who you really want to connect with. You never know when they may put in a good word for you. If large crowds are too intimidating, find more intimate gatherings such as Blogger Babes Who Brunch where you can get to know everyone without feeling overwhelmed. This also allows you to get to know people on a more personal level.
6. Find Ways To Display Your Expertise //
As you chat and make connections, it's ok to share your expertise on a topic if it makes sense in the conversation. For example, on Sunday as I stuffed my face with steak and eggs, one of the girls mentioned that she wasn't sure how to connect with brands so early in her blogging career. So I cut the conversation in my head short about God knows what, and was able to provide her with a few of my tricks that she found to be quite helpful. Be confident in your skill and don't be afraid to share what you know. Connections and networking tend to stick when the relationship is mutually beneficial.
7. Be Yourself //
This seems very obvious, but when nerves take over there's no telling who you'll turn into. Sometimes you may start doing your best impression of someone that you really admire instead of being yourself. I've done it! I've also gone completely mute in fear of not sounding intelligent enough or not being confident in my skill set. However, after going to enough of these things, I realize that they're most successful for me when I am totally myself. I don't take myself too seriously which makes people really comfortable around me. I've met some of my dearest friends through networking events, including Bianca who I met at The Style Bloggers of Conference a few years ago. People will always respect authenticity.
Blogger Babes Who Brunch was amazing and I made it through without being stuck in my head the entire time. Although it took me sometime to get back into the swing of things with networking, I'm happy that I got to chance to meet so many creative and warm spirited ladies. If you're an introvert like I am, I promise that this networking stuff gets easier the more that you do it. It's like working out, it's terrible at first but then you start to love it when you see the results. Get out there and meet some new people. You never know where your network may take you!
Are You An Introvert?
Do You Have Any Helpful Networking Tips?