How to Network When You're an Introvert
In today’s workplace environment, we use more technology than ever before. As new businesses become more technology and information driven, the quieter an office becomes. How do we set ourselves apart in a world full of successful and smart introverts?
We become great at networking.
The advice to reach out to others in order to improve the outlook of your business is well-known, but for those who are introverted, it's much easier said than done. Even if you feel that your strengths lie in being a player behind the scenes, you can still benefit from networking. Here’s how to do it as painlessly as possible:
Network and make connections online
Connecting with people online before you meet them can be really helpful. Connect with other event attendees on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and social media platforms before an event. Connecting prior to meeting allows for you to feel less alone when you arrive. Familiar faces, even if they belong to a stranger, can be really comforting. You can also use this to find new events by connecting with people who are a part of or work at organizations that you belong to.
In my role as Assistant Director, Alumni Marketing and Communications at the Harvard Business School (HBS), we stay connected with alumni through four social media channels -- Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. -- Robert Bochnak, Harvard Business School
Talk about your accomplishments
This one is hard for introverts. By definition, introverts often stay in the shadows and seldom celebrate their achievements publicly. It’s not a bad thing to let people know what you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished – and talking about these achievements can help you to make connections that you are able to help.
Discuss your goals and ideas
There’s no need to prattle on about 100 different ideas that are floating through your head, but if you’re looking for something to talk about when you meet someone in the industry, bring up an opinion that you have or an idea that is specific to your industry to jumpstart the conversation. Ask the person what their goals are and take time to see if you know anyone that could help them. Sharing your connections is a great way to gain new strong connections.
Don’t overthink it
When you go home, leave your interactions and networking attempts alone emotionally. No need to go over and over what you said, how the other person responded, or whether or not you were well received. Even if you feel like you made a few social blunders, don’t dwell on it. Concentrate your energy on the positive things that came out of your networking attempt and let your mistakes inform your choices next time.
Maintain strong relationships
Every so often, you’ll make a strong connection, and when that happens, it will help you with your networking to maintain that connection and create a solid relationship. This person may be likely to speak up on your behalf, introduce you to others, and make your networking easier. This goes both ways. Make sure to speak for your other connections and listen for opportunites for them as well.
It's important to remember the faces and names of the people you meet after attending a networking event. When someone hands you their card, look at the card and then at them. When they walk away, type a small note into your phone or on a notepad so that you can remember them later. After the event, send an email to them and let them know that you enjoyed meeting them.
Networking is dificult for anyone and for introverts, it can be painful. However, as you start to make connections, the benefit will soon outweigh the work. Do you have any additional tips?