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Introvert? You Can Still Network Like a Rock Star

Five Networking Tips for Introverts

There are few things as important in the business world as networking. For the shy and introverted, however, entering a crowded room to mix and mingle can be as daunting as diving head first into a shark tank.

But it doesn't have to be. Setting some reasonable expectations and prepping before the event can turn that next Chamber of Commerce mixer or professional meetup group into something to look forward to rather than fear. Here are five tips that can make networking your new best strength.

Set reasonable goals

Networking is all about making contacts and connections, but that doesn't mean you have to make them all in one outing. Instead of telling yourself you have to talk to 20 people and get 15 business cards, lower the bar a bit. Talk to one, two or three people and have good conversations.

Think quality over quantity.

Get ready in advance

No, we're not talking about picking your outfit, but rather your ice-breakers. Just as research and planning are key to your success on the job, they are vital for networking, too.

Go in with a go-to icebreaker in your pocket. If you have one or two conversation starters in mind before you walk in the door, you'll be in good shape. Open-ended questions are great fail-safes, such as “How long have you been attending these events?” or “Is this your first time here?”

Seeking advice on where to have dinner or what movie to see also is an excellent way to take the edge off and ease into conversation.

In a networking survival guide , Glenn Leibowitz, head of communications at a global management consulting firm, also recommends nailing your “'elevator pitch'  --  the succinct description of who you are and what you do' -- in advance.

“I try to convey two or three pieces of basic information that cover what I do in my day job, my personal passions or projects outside of work, and the reason why I'm at the conference,” he wrote.

Sharpen your listening skills

Active listeners are great at networking events, because they take a genuine interest in what others are saying. People love to feel heard and valued and being an active and engaged listener makes them feel special.

Because most people are better at talking than listening, you'll stand out as someone who values others,” Jacqueline Whitmore, author, business etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach, wrote in a her networking tips for introverts .

Get ready to get personal

You're attending a networking event to further your business contacts and expand your professional recognition. If you just ask a lot of questions but bolt the minute someone asks one of you, you're not going to achieve the desired result. Be genuine, answer honestly and directly. Share your stories. They are part of what makes you you.

If the idea of opening up with strangers makes you uncomfortable, practice with a friend or loved one. You also can try out your icebreakers and conversation starters with them, too.

Leibowitz also advises to make sure you're approachable with simple strategies, such as making eye contact and putting away your smartphone.

Go at your own pace

No matter what, remember to be kind to yourself and go at your own speed. Whitmore suggests setting a time limit for how long you'll stay, adding you might be surprised by how much longer you might stay after that clock has expired.

No matter how long you stay, it is a step in the right direction and one more step toward being comfortable at such events in the future.

If you would like help working on these strategies or others, our team of amazing counselors can help. Call us today for your free consultation .