Networking events can often be overwhelming places. Traditional social etiquette goes out the window, we have to navigate getting and, and out, of conversations whilst balancing a coffee cup and buffet plate. It’s not easy!
If you also sit toward to introvert side of the scale then networking events can take on a whole new level of difficulty. We’re all ambiverts really, so a mixture of introvert and extrovert, it’s just how far the scale you sit towards one or the other. Characteristics of an extrovert are things like: thinking as you speak, preference for verbal communication, getting energy from others. Introvert tendencies however are: thinking before speaking, preference for written communication, and getting energy from solitude.
It’s this last one that can cause the most problems when it comes to networking.
People who are more introverted tend to find large social gatherings very energy draining. They can be overwhelming yes, but tiering more than anything. They get their energy from being alone, so being forced to make small-talk with a room full of strangers can sap the energy right out of them!
Introverted people will often shy away from networking events because of this, but that can mean missed opportunities for them and the people they meet. So here are some top networking tips for all you wonderful introverts out there…
Look for events that have a clear format or structure, this works especially well if you’re going to be attending the same event regularly.
Seek out more 1-2-1 conversations rather than large groups. If you are at an open, informal event and start chatting to someone, ask if you can step to one side so you can hear each other better and focus on that 1-2-1 conversation without the overwhelming chaos of large groups.
Make sure you give yourself the time and space to recharge after events. Try not to book in events back-to-back, or meetings right after an event, you’re probably going to need some time to get those batteries back up to full capacity.
Remember that networking doesn’t just happen at events! There are LOADS of networking activities you can undertake without setting foot into a room full of strangers: book in coffee catch-ups and nurture relationships with people already in your network for example. Networking isn’t just about meeting new people either.
Finding what works for you is key – networking is a long-game so it’s important to keep getting out there and building/nurturing relationships. If you can find events that you enjoy and make you feel comfortable, you’re far more likely to keep attending.
If we can better understand ourselves and others, we’re much better equipped to offer support. So if you’re on the extrovert side of the came (like me!) it’s important that we recognise and support our introverted friends – they have just as much value to give, and just as many opinions to share, we just need to create environments that makes them comfortable to do so. That way, we all win!