Any successful businessperson knows that one of your most valuable assets is your network. Whether a leadership forum, networking social or company wide gathering, these situations can prove to be pivotal moments in your career. Networking provides the opportunity to garner new relationships, promote yourself to others and diversify the people within your circle. On the outside, it may seem as though everyone is comfortable walking into a room full of strangers and engaging in small talk, but in reality, this is difficult for many. We have put together some helpful tips for introverts so you too can put your best foot forward at your next networking opportunity.
Practice & Perfect Your Pitch
One of the most difficult aspects of networking is figuring out what to say and how to say it. Like anything, practice makes perfect. Prepare yourself by talking with colleagues that you are comfortable with. Develop the ability to discuss who you are, what you enjoy about your work and why you’re interested in making new connections. A strong introduction is the perfect way to settle those nerves and effectively meet new people.
Be the First to Reach Out
As an introvert, small talk and the ability to jump into conversation with new people is often difficult. Fortunately, many people feel the same way about networking nerves. At your next networking event, if you see someone sitting alone, be the first to reach out. They are probably just as nervous as you are and will be extremely grateful that you made the move.To be a successful networker, you’re going to have to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Make it a priority to introduce yourself first to at least one person at every networking event you attend and you will be networking with ease in no time.
Use Listening Skills
Although introverts may not have the strengths that make networking easy, they do have the strengths that make networking successful. Use those strengths of good listening, observation and focus to the best of your ability. You don’t have to be the loudest person in the room to make the most impact. Instead, focus on the person you’re speaking with, listen to what they’re saying and ask insightful questions that make you stand out.
Make Meaningful Connections
Quantity vs quality is a huge factor to consider when networking and forming your circle of valuable business relationships. It may seem as though more is always better, but that is often not the case. If you find it difficult to connect with a large number of people, focus on garnering a handful of strong relationships that will prove themselves valuable in the future. Initiate strong conversations, get to know the people you are meeting and be sure to follow up with those new connections. One meaningful relationship can prove to make a major impact on your career over a large number of less meaningful ones.