Networking as an Introvert: 11 Tips to Help You Work the Room
Do you feel energized after socializing? Or, do you need a moment to decompress and debrief after you’ve been working the room? Your answer to this question can help you determine whether you’re an introvert or extrovert.
While many associate introversion with shyness, extroverts can be shy as well. The key differentiating factor is how a person derives their energy: an introvert thrives with ample alone time and does their best thinking when left in solitude. On the other hand, and extrovert is someone who tends to derive their energy from the outside world–the people and things around them.
Prefer clear plans
Like a bit of impulsivity
Thrive when working in solitude with minimal distractions
Thrive working in groups or collaborating with others
Value close, 1:1 relationships
Like large friend groups
Tend to be great listeners
Enjoy running the conversation
Need time alone to recharge
Thrive in social settings and group activities
I’m an introvert by nature, but one thing you learn as an entrepreneur is the significance of fostering meaningful relationships and the value of being able to make yourself seen and heard in a crowd of many. Here are a few of my tips to help you network successfully as an introvert.
Prepare your elevator pitch.
One thing that will help calm your nerves is knowing what you will say before you walk into the room. If you’re going to a networking event, chances are people are going to ask you who you are and what you do. Rehearse this answer before your event so that you can introduce yourself with confidence.
Focus on listening.
If you’re in a room of people you don’t know and aren’t too keen on small talk, lean into listening. You learn way more by opening your ears than you do by talking, and people love feeling heard.
Have a plan.
Introverts love a good plan, so why not give yourself a plan for how to navigate the room? Try to do a brief scan and select a few individuals you’d like to speak with and map your time out accordingly. If the event schedule and attendee list is available, you can get an even bigger step ahead by making your plan the night before the event. This will not only give you peace of mind, but will also keep you from feeling frazzled.
Hush your inner critic.
Introverts have the tendency to be more self-critial, especially in social settings. Be mindful of when you’re having thoughts that aren’t serving you. Remember: you are your own worst critic. Chances are the thing you think you “screwed up” or that “awkward” thing you said went unnoticed by others.
Dress to impress.
Wear clothes that you like and feel comfortable in. You do better and feel better when you know you’ve put time and effort into looking your best for the occasion.
Do your research.
It can be incredibly uncomfortable to feel underprepared or out of place. Before any networking event, learn more about event sponsors, and do your research on a few of the speakers. If you know your crowd, you can make more meaningful connections and have an easier time stirring up small talk.
Go with a friend.
Having an extroverted friend tag along can be helpful in terms of facilitating introductions and breaking the ice for that much-dreaded small talk. It also just feels comforting to have a friend by your side.
Try to have fun.
When you reframe networking as a fun opportunity rather than an obligation, you’re able to release the pressure and just have a good time and be yourself. Have fun and know that at the end of the day, we’re all just humans that put our pants on one leg at a time.
Ask for introductions.
If you’re attending the event with a friend, ask them to introduce you to people. It never hurts to tag team or have a little help breaking into some of those larger group conversations. After all, it’s not always what you know, it’s who you know.
Aim for quality over quantity.
Set a reasonable goal for yourself of how many people you’d like to speak with at an in-person event, but always go for quality over quantity. You don’t have to talk to everyone in the room; the key is to have meaningful and intentional conversations with a handful of individuals. Go for impact over impressions.
Embrace the awkwardness.
Sometimes it’s impossible to shake that feeling of awkwardness. Instead of shying away from it, embrace the moment and realize that the uncomfortable moments are just signs that you are growing.