Attending 2-4 events a week I see all sorts of business professionals and networkers at each event. I write articles about all avenues of networking but I haven’t written a article for the shy and introverted networker who’s not comfortable with networking but wants to grow their business, develop their network and hone their craft. A lot of times we see the newbie networker or introvert at the event sitting in the corner watching everyone as they socialize at the event and some don’t get the nerve to mingle with the rest of the group. Most of the time they sit there and watch feeling that they are not part of the group and by not having a good experience there’s a good chance they will not attend another networking event. I want to help & support all networkers at events no matter if they are a seasoned or a fresh face. Here are some business networking tips for the shy and introverted to help them on their next networking event:
- Be prepared: Read the bio on the event before you attend, find out what the dress code is, bring enough business cards to the event (TIP: Make sure your business cards are up to date and professional looking), bring breath mints or gum, have the event name/address and mapped out so you know where to go and bring a pen and or notepad to take notes at the event. By being prepared this will take away some of your worries before you go to the event and make you feel less anxious.
- Look for someone else who seems shy: It can be very hard to break into a big circle of people especially when they all seem confident. Look for anyone on their own perhaps standing in a corner or sitting at the bar or table, or hanging out on the outskirts of a group. Most likely they will probably feel just as shy as you do and would be grateful that you approached them by engaging in conversation.
- Arrive to the event earlier than later: The great thing about getting to an event early is that you can acclimate yourself to the setting and slowly meet people as they arrive. Otherwise, you’re forced into a new scene all at once, which can be much more overwhelming.
- Have an elevator speak prepared: Have several Elevator pitches ready for your event. This way, if someone already heard your last pitch they can hear another one which might help them find you more business and or know more about you and your business. Also by having your elevator pitch prepared this will reduce your anxiety and your conversation will sound more professional.
- Set realistic goals for the event: Start small and move up once you’ve accomplished your first set of goals. A good way to start is to say: “I will talk to 7 new people at the event, make 3 solid connections and meet at least one of the solid connection for coffee”. Don’t get upset or discouraged if you don’t accomplish your goals at first, in the long run you’ll quickly surpass your goals and be a solid networker.
- Go with a buddy or co-worker: By attending an event with a buddy or co-worker they can offer mutual support for you at the event. Think of the wing man system, its better to go with someone than going solo.
- Prep yourself before the event: Prepare yourself before the event by writing down 3-5 questions to ask someone at the event: Here’s a past article on good questions to ask at your next event: Ronald McDonald Stole My 12 Networking Tips. You can also learn about the individuals at then event by seeing who’s gong to attend. A good way to learn about them is to look them up on Facebook and or on LinkedIn. It always impresses your future contact by knowing a little about them.
- Don’t over-Analyze: Have you ever come back from an event and said “He or she must think I’m an idiot” or “I should never have said that”? A lot of introverts and seasoned professionals do this, so you’re not alone. We all have a tendency to over think and over analyze things but don’t beat yourself and think of the positives of the event. If there’s room for improvement, remember what you need to work on and focus on that at your next event.
- Firm handshake and eye contact: Just like meeting your friends or current clients when meeting new contacts at an networking event you want to give someone a firm handshake with eye contact, it shows respect and that you really care about meeting them. (TIP: When someone says their name, repeat it so you’ll remember their name)
- Be yourself: At the end of the day is OK to be shy because not everyone is extroverted and outgoing but being yourself is key to people getting to know the real you. After several networking events you’ll end up being more social and knowing more professionals at each event
Finally networking is a skill that can be learned, even for the most shy or introverted person. Most importantly you should be yourself, be the professional that pays it forward, connects people and someone that’s easy to talk to. Networking can be stressful at first but with lots of practice & patients by attending different types of events you’ll end up enjoying it and will end up being a success. And remember whether you want to start your own business, expand your network or simply want to gain the confidence to move up in your field, you’ll need to make solid connections with people.