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Networking Tips For Introverts

25th March 2019
People looking at phone

Networking is a tricky task, even for the most outgoing of souls. For the more reserved within an industry, it could seem like a necessary evil of professional life or even something to be avoided.

Read on to get tips and advice about networking as an introvert and how it can work for you as well as to learn more about how you can encourage introverts in your workforce to embrace networking more easily.

Networking made easy for the introvert

As an introvert the idea of networking can seem like a painful process and one that’s better to be avoided, or at least kept to a minimum. It seems that networking is built for extroverts who are energised by social interactions and get a buzz from a fast-paced, snappy and communication-rich setting.

However, it’s also true that introverts have tonnes of qualities that can be put to effective use in a network setting. We can show you how it’s easy to network as an introvert and how to turn it into a professional, or personal activity you can enjoy rather than see as a necessary evil.

Networking session in a small group

Introvert Networking Skills 

The first rule to remember is that you don’t have to be an extrovert to network successfully. Hold off trying to embody the outgoing socialite and instead embrace your quieter qualities. Refrain from putting pressure on yourself to ‘work the room’ and gather a fistful of business cards.

As an introvert you are armed with a host of skills to network efficiently and as soon as you harness those skills, networking won’t feel like an uncomfortable chore.

Introverts are used to deflecting attention away from themselves, ensuring they’re empathetic and in tune with others which can really help build relationships in a networking setting. Find out more about the introvert traits here and how you can channel them to good use in a networking scenario.

Introverts also excel at asking questions, showing an interest in others and listening carefully. All of these characteristics are perfect for relationship building, which it turns out is the main goal of networking.

Those with a tendency towards introversion also find busy, noisy environments such as networking events can be draining and lead to sensory overload. Overcome this by aiming to have fewer but more meaningful interactions, which suit an introvert’s desire for detail and thoughtfulness.

Be strategic about the networking events you go to. Choose quality over quantity and opt for smaller, more intimate gatherings, such as professional dinners, or small group coffee sessions.

Networking dinner

Introvert Networking strategies

Once you’ve chosen your preferred networking event, then be careful to prepare well for it. Make yourself feel more comfortable by researching the event prior to attending, so you can see what sort of setting it’ll be in and what the majority of attendees could wear.

Work out who will be there, so you can really focus your efforts on talking to the right people. Contact people you know who might be going, so you can have a wing person. However, be careful not to stick with them the whole time. Choose some key people you’d like to speak to, then make sure you focus your energies on those conversations. 

Make a list of questions you could ask to get the ball rolling once you’re there and in the thick of it. You’ll most likely know some people going or at least know the type of people who are going. This can be a combination of typical questions, such as ‘what do you do’ to more probing questions such as ‘what’s the most inspiring project you’re working on right now?’ This will make conversations more natural and therefore the connections will be more genuine and useful. 

Build up your networks online first before you go too, so you can pre-empt those meetings once you’re at the event. Once you’ve embraced your introvert qualities and prepared well, you’ll find that networking is much easier than it first seems

How introverts can network powerfully

If you turn up to an event such as a conference or course with an unexpected networking element you probably won’t feel prepared.  Our advice as event experts is to simply treat it as an opportunity to meet other people and work out what common ground you have with them. Don’t try too hard and go with the moment.

Keep your questions succinct and really focus on what you want to know and the aims of each conversation.  A great source of inspiration for all wannabe introvert networkers is the business consultant Dorie Clark, self-confessed introvert. Her book ‘Stand Out Networking’ is a brilliant resource for introvert networking advice.

She recommends that you boost your networking power by giving yourself some well-deserved down time. Relax and be on your own at points throughout the event if you need to.

Dorie also suggests that you stick to your gut about people you network with. If they’re boasting a lot, are a bit flaky or don’t seem genuine, make your excuses and move onto the next person to preserve your introvert energy.

We’d suggest looking for people who are standing alone and try to connect with them. This way you’ll have more meaningful 1 to 1 interactions and may even end up connecting with another introvert who’s on the edge of the crowd.

Create a series of prompts or go to topics which you can fall back on. For example, wear an interesting item of clothing of jewellery which could be a conversation starter. Try to make your business card or name label a talking point by adding a quirky comment about you or write or your favourite tagline. 

We know that as introverts it can be hard to make eye contact, but it’s important to do this when you’re meeting new people. If it becomes too much, then simply comment on something they’re wearing to draw their attention to this.

One to one networking session

An introvert’s guide to networking

Find a networking style that fits you. That might involve starting at smaller events and moving on to larger networking gatherings or conferences.  Perhaps you want to make a goal at each event that you’ll talk to three different groups of people. This ensures that networking becomes manageable and not too pressurised. There’s certainly no need to push yourself to give out a barrage of business cards.

Have a set of questions you can use to get the ball rolling such as:

  • I don’t know too many people here, so I wanted to introduce myself.

  • What do you do? What’s your story?

  • What brought you here today?

  • You could comment on the food/venue/weather/information on offer

  • What do you love most about what you do?

Make sure you’re also armed with ways to leave conversations. This is crucial if you want to work your way between multiple groups or to leave early. Find out some top tips from this informative TedX talk on networking for introverts.

Networking events at University of London Venues

We hope our tips around networking for introverts have helped you to feel empowered about the next networking event you plan or attend.

We hold many events at University of London Venues, from large conferences and networking events to award ceremonies and installations. Our events team are fantastic at understanding what you need to get the most out of your event and we can support you any additional event services you might need. Contact our events team online, drop us an email on conferences@london.ac.uk or give us a call on 020 7862 8127.

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