Whether you love it or hate it, networking is a powerful tool for advancing your career.
Networking is important because it’s about building a network of long-term, mutually beneficial relationships you can tap into in certain situations throughout your career. So when you find yourself in tricky situations like needing a job, referral or even advice, you have a network of peers you can reach out to help you.
But for those of us who meeting new people doesn’t come so naturally, building industry connections can be challenging but it IS definitely possible.
Here are our top tips for networking as an introvert:
1. Start small!
Setting small achievable goals for yourself helps you feel more in control and less overwhelmed. For example, signing up for a small event and setting a goal to talk to two or three people whilst you’re there. Once you’ve hit your first goal you can gradually move on to speaking to more people or signing up for larger events.
2. Visualise success
Visualising yourself having positive networking interactions before an event or networking situation will help build your confidence and make you feel more prepared. Remember, networking isn’t about being the most outgoing person in the room, it’s about building meaningful relationships. So focus on visualising yourself being authentic and unapologetically you.
3. Prepare conversation starters
Preparing conversation starters in advance so you don’t have to think of them on the spot is extremely helpful. Some example conversation starters are: “So what brought you here today?”, “Who is the most interesting person you have spoken to so far?”, “What do you do for work?”.
4. Bring a friend
Bring a friend or colleague with you to the event to help boost your confidence. Having someone by your side will help you feel more at ease and motivate you to do what you set out to do at the event, meet people and put yourself out there!
5. Take breaks
For introverts, strong doses of social interaction can be EXHAUSTING. If you start to feel overwhelmed, take a break and step away from the meeting or event for a few minutes. This will give you time to recharge and refocus. And remember, if it all feels like it’s getting too much, leave, simply attending the event is a huge achievement you should be proud of!
And finally, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s completely natural to feel nervous when meeting new people especially if you’re an introvert. The key is to take small steps and focus on building genuine connections.
And like everything, with practice networking WILL become more comfortable and enjoyable. So remember, be kind to yourself and keep taking those baby steps.
Check out the Talk Twenties Podcast for more advice on becoming more confident in your twenties!