Successfully Work a Crowd – 5 Networking Tips for Introverts

Hello Introvert

As an introvert, I am pretty happy being at home with a good book or eating lunch alone while catching up on e-mail.  While “re-charge” time is important for introverts, I realized early in my career that I was missing out on professional opportunities because I wasn’t cultivating my network. 

While walking into a large room full of strangers is still not my idea of a good time, there are strategies that help me to network comfortably and effectively in crowded events.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Use your strengths.  Listening is one of the greatest gifts that you can give, and Introverts tend to be great listeners.  When a person feels that someone is genuinely interested in them, there can be an instant connection.  And, that is what networking is about – making connections and building relationships.
  2. Plan a transition moment.  If attending a bustling event after a crazy day at work and a hectic commute, take a minute for yourself in your car or in the restroom before entering the event.  These “mini re-charge” moments can be just enough to boost your energy so you can make the most of the networking opportunities.
  3. Take on a role.  Introverts can feel very comfortable in large crowds when they have a role. For example, you can help people sign-in or hand out name tags.  Having a role at a social event gives you an instant ice breaker and a reason to meet several new people.
  4. Have an entry and exit strategy.   Breaking into a conversation or making a graceful exit from a discussion can be challenging.   Groups of 3 are usually easier to join than groups of two.  A simple “Can I join you?” is all it takes.   When ready to move on, ask for a business card and let them know you enjoyed meeting them.  Excusing yourself to refill your drink or use the restroom also works well.   
  5. Ditch the pitch.  While it is important to relay some key points about yourself, the “elevator pitch” is not a great way to begin a relationship.  Be human.  Curiosity and an interesting question – “What do you love best about your field?” – can go a long way in starting an engaging conversation.

Happy networking!

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