Returning to face to face networking, especially for introverts
Posted on 6th June 2021 at 12:12
We’re used to networking online now, however one of the groups I’m in are returning to doing some in person networking. If you are too and are feeling a bit reticent or you’ve never really liked it then here are a few ideas.
Focus on being yourself
When you are at a networking event focus on being yourself and connecting with others because you are genuinely interested in them. This means switching your attention away from your business goals towards talking to, and more fundamentally listening to other people.
If you are thinking how can this person help me with my business your focus is taken away from them and you become much less present and more disconnected. But when you shift your focus to the person or people you are having a conversation with you are much more likely to develop a genuine rapport with them which is a solid basis from which to develop any relationship, business or otherwise.
If you are shy about approaching people the first thing to know is that others maybe shy too so you are doing them a favour by talking to them first!
Networking strategies for introverts
Also, here are a couple of strategies which may help. The first one is direct, where you go up to someone, look them in the eye, and say, for example, “Hi, I'm Judith, how are you?” or, “Hello, I'm Simon, what's your line of work?” If that feels a bit too full on an alternative approach is to make a comment about something innocuous. So, if for example they are drinking coffee or eating sandwiches, you could ask, “How are the sandwiches/how is the coffee?” Or if you notice something striking about them say so, for example, “I love your coat, where did you get it?” Make sure this is genuine.
If you are at a business event it is highly likely someone will ask you what you do so it is essential to have practised what you are going to say to this question. This may seem like an obvious point to make, but I have heard many people especially when starting their own business floundering on this issue. One way to practice is to have a play with saying what you do in a few different ways until you find something which you are happy with. Make sure it is clear, succinct and memorable so you stand out from others who are in the same business as you. Once you have found something you like practice saying it in front of a mirror until it sounds clear, feels natural and is congruent with what you do or who you are.
So, the next time you are invited to a networking event, if your usual response is “Oh no” maybe you could re-frame it and ask yourself, “How much can I enjoy this by being more of myself?”
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