I am an introvert which means that I love having meaningful conversations and feel most comfortable in quiet or solitude or working one to one.
If you are like me then the chances are that you may find that networking represents the complete opposite of your natural habitat. To illustrate my point here are my light-hearted survival suggestions.
Faced with a room full of strangers DO NOT make eye contact as this could lead to small talk. Pretend to look for someone to talk to by peering into the middle distance. Do a few laps of the room keeping close to the walls and an exit at all times Get another drink. Get a third. Busy yourself with your phone and visit the loo. Repeat these steps then retire to the corner to hang out to study something interesting like a painting, notice board or pot plant.Think of a reason you need to leave the networking event early. Slip out quietly vowing 'never again' and that networking is not for you. Feel that sense of relaxing and being more yourself as you walk to your car.
Joking aside. In fact us introverts can make the best networkers. We are good listeners and tend to be more interested in other people than about talking about ourselves.
Here are my 10 tips which have helped me to enjoy these gatherings:
1. Take a friend, client or colleague as a guest. The thought of entering a room and not knowing anyone can feel daunting. You'll feel more relaxed and as you network regularly you will recognise friendly faces of people you have met on previous occasions.
2. Make eye contact and smile. If you are feeling nervous or uncomfortable this can show on your face.
3. One of the purposes of networking is to build trust. Work on your small talking skills. View small-talk as a necessary route to the more meaningful and interesting conversations that will develop as you get to know the other person.
4. Be prepared with a number of open questions. As an introvert you are probably a good listener so play to your strength and encourage the other person to talk about themselves.
5. Dont feel you have to stay till the end. If your energy levels are going down or you are feeling anxious, take a break and re-join the event or leave.5
6. Eighty percent of success is showing up.Often the thoughts you have about networking are far worse than the event itself. Nothing ventured nothing gained.
7. When first entering the room look for someone who you have met before. Go over for a catch-up. You'll feel more relaxed and at home straight away.
8. Adopt a 'client service' mindset. Rather than thinking about what you might get out of the room of people, think about how you might be able to help them.
9. Do not try to talk with everyone but make a real connection with one or two people.
10. Move around the room and introduce yourself, this will make it easier for others to get to know you and for you to develop your confidence and networking skills.
You might suprise youself and say "Wow. This networking isnt that bad. I really enjoyed myself!"