I attended a pretty large conference a few weeks ago and I’ll be honest… I was NERVOUS! As much as I thrive off of being around and meeting new people-the actual process of networking and going up to them just feels awkward. In these situations, I’m a complete introvert! With that said, it’s the real world and sometimes things are all about connections and what you can learn from others through networking. Putting yourself out there and meeting new folks, no matter how awkward it might feel is WORTH IT! Believe me.. I completely get those feelings so I’ve come up with 8 essential tips to network for the introvert.
If your conference gives out a list of attendees ahead of time, do some research. Look at peoples’ profiles and send emails to those you want to connect with. It’s an easier way to break the ice so you don’t feel so awkward walking up to them.
Just put yourself out there
Yes, it’s hard but you will look back and regret you didn’t take the leap of faith. Walk up to one person, take a deep breath and introduce yourself. Then lead with one simple question-Where are you from? What brings you to this event? Don’t leave your conference or event without meeting at least 3 new contacts.
Ask for help
If you know one person, ask that person to introduce you to one person then that person to introduce you to another. That one introduction could lead to many more without making you feel awkward. This has helped me on so many occasions to meet some amazing people who I was too afraid to go up to on my own!
Wear something that stands out
Depending on the type of event, try wearing a crazy hat, fun tie or a shirt that says “I’m shy, come and talk to me.” This sounds crazy but I was at an event and someone wore a shirt that read “please come and say hello” and people flocked to them to comment about their shirt and it started really interesting conversations.
Find one person
Find that person who is standing by themselves in the corner and talk to them as opposed to going up to a large group that is already engaged in conversation. My friend has met some prestigious people who are just off to the side checking their email.
Get a drink
Just take a few sips of wine to loosen up. Sometimes a little liquid courage is all it takes.
Label business cards
You’re going to get a ton of business cards because you’re planning to follow the tips above (wink, wink). After the event, write a short label or descriptor on each card so you know who they are. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy just something that triggers you to remember the people you met.(i. e, likes dogs, started their own business). A little fact is really helpful especially when you want to make sure to keep in touch and can’t exactly remember who was who.
After the event follow up with the people you have met and put a few key things you discussed in the email. You don’t want to wait too long to follow up to make sure you keep those connections and conversations going.
Networking can be scary and intimidating but you can do it! Think about those small and simple questions to ask, do some research before the event, find a friend, and make sure to follow up.
What strategies have worked for you?