Networking can help you land your dream job, make a successful career change and meet amazing, like-minded people. But if you’re an introvert or ambivert who finds being around people exhausting, having to do it can be super tough (meeting a ton of new people and small talk?), even though you know it’ll be good for your career. To get some smart suggestions on how the quieter half can handle the situation, we reached out to Amy K. Hall, a Brooklyn, NY-based career and life coach who specializes in personal growth and leadership. Keep reading for Amy’s six tips for introverts that’ll totally help you rock the next networking event you go to.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Amy tells us that scheduling in time to prepare for the event will eliminate some of that surprise and risk that’s not in an introvert’s DNA to love. How to do it? “Give yourself ample time to research the networking event so that you know what to expect when you get there. If possible, check out photos from past events to get a feel for what setting, people and vibe there will be. You can even plan out some questions and conversation starters in advance to have in your back pocket,” Amy says.
2. Think differently. Although networking events can be scary and even exhausting for an introvert, take a second to challenge your own mindset before you walk into the event. Amy says, “Give yourself a mental pep-talk by reminding yourself that getting out of your comfort zone is GOOD for you and that networking is really just connecting with other human beings. Be open to liking it more than disliking it.” Well said, Amy.
3. Take it slow. Remember that you don’t have to speak to everyone at every event. Amy advises, “Take your time with each conversation, really listen and if you’re feeling overwhelmed at any point, don’t hesitate to excuse yourself for a restroom break to take in a moment of silence or a nice long deep breath.” Set your own pace and stick to it!
4. Be an amazing listener. Introverts often dread networking events because of the intense (and sometimes awkward) pressure to talk about yourself — but it doesn’t have to be that way at all. Amy says to focus on your listening skills instead, which are also totally impressive to someone you just meet. To do it successfully, she suggests asking really great questions and thoughtfully tuning in.
5. Make it less about YOU. Naturally, most people attending a networking event are thinking about who they should meet and how they can benefit. Instead, Amy suggests asking yourself: What can I learn? Who can I help? What information or skills do I have that can contribute to someone else’s world? You’ll be surprised by just how much you can shine by removing yourself as the center point during the event.
6. Make time to rest and recharge. Since networking events can feel like overstimulation for an introvert, Amy says to schedule some downtime for yourself after you get home. “Relax, decompress and process everything that just happened. Maybe even try typing up some notes and follow-up actions of who you’d like to connect with post-event.” Whatever you do, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for getting out there and making things happen!
Are you an introvert? What makes networking more fun or less tiring for you? Spill your thoughts @BritandCo.
(Photos via Getty)