You’ve heard of building a personal brand. You know the value of connecting with people through social media (great!). What’s the next step? Yep, you guessed it, networking! But hold on – how do you network as an introvert?
Introverts are often stereotyped as being shy, quiet, and anxious. Yes, introverts may be those things. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re all of them. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with being any of them!
Often just the word ‘networking’ is enough to send an introvert into a meltdown. But don’t panic, being an introvert does not stop you from reaching success.
In fact, some of the most successful people claim they are introverts. Introverts such as Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, Emma Watson, Michael B Jordan, and the 44th President of the USA: Barack Obama. Even a few of our RecruitmentJunkies are professed introverts (looking at you Rosanna and Tayla). So you’re among some great company.
That’s how we know how daunting it can be stepping into a room full of people you don’t know and having to spark up a conversation with them. Plus, the pressure can be on if you want to use networking to help secure your next job. So, we’ve put together the ultimate guide on how to network as an introvert to help you out.
Let’s start with what makes an introvert different.
Your superpowers as an introvert may include:
- Brilliant listening skills
These are just a few of your superpowers, but let’s talk about how they will assist you into becoming a boss at networking.
Confidence is one classic trait that many introverts wish they had. However, a lack of confidence does not mean a lack of knowledge or skill. And often overconfidence can be the downfall of an extrovert.
People are naturally drawn to those that give off confidence, but they will trust authenticity more.
As someone who doesn’t want to draw all of the attention to themselves, you can continue to be your authentic self when conversing with new people. No need to put on an act!
So stay away from the loudest person in the room. Instead, look for others who may also be reserving their attention for more meaningful conversations, and stay genuine.
Luckily for you, networking events are FULL of people that want to talk. And as an introvert, you can use your listening superpower. Instead of trying to be something you’re not (or making yourself way uncomfortable), embrace your natural skill that many others envy.
Listening is one of the most important skills an individual can have. While you may not enjoy small talk – you can combine your authenticity with listening to build meaningful interactions. Listening will help the conversation flow, as your conversation partner will be more engaged.
As an introvert, you may already find that you’re very good at paying attention to verbal and nonverbal communication, and you can use this information as part of your reflection. Active listening will also help you build long-term networking relationships by building trust.
Here are two active listening tips to take along with you to your next networking event:
- Pay attention. At your first networking event you may feel overwhelmed and easily distracted. Try to focus on the individual you are speaking with. Acknowledge their message with non-verbal and verbal communication e.g. nodding, smiling, agreeing etc.
- Provide feedback. It can be hard to think of responses under pressure on top of meeting new people. Our personal easy favourite way to show you’ve been listening intently is to reflect back. Use a starting phrase like: “Sounds like you are saying…”. Or ask questions for clarity: “What do you mean by…” and “That’s interesting! Could you explain that a little more?”. This will keep the conversation flowing, and you’ll show you were really attentive – win-win
If you’re an introvert, you know the importance of alone time. Its quality time for you to recharge after socialising and process. This means you have the amazing ability to be comfortable with complete independence and you’re likely very self-sufficient.
“Wait, so how is this a superpower for being in a room full of people, RecruitmentJunky?”
Well… if you are comfortable being independent and doing things on your own, then going to a networking event alone isn’t that much of a big deal, right?
Use this super power to your advantage. Ease yourself in, grab a drink, smile at strangers. You’ve easily managed the hard bit (arriving alone – lots of people can’t do that!) – now either wait for other networkers to be drawn to you, or find your fellow introverts and introduce yourself. We guarantee you won’t be the only introvert at a networking event.
How else can this help you? Because introverts know how to set and reach their goals, without others’ help.
Set goals for how many people you want to talk to and do research on any speakers or attendees in advance. Just knowing the number of people you want to meet will help make networking feel less daunting. You’ll be better prepared than most others to hit the ground running when it comes to networking effectively
Tips on how to network as an introvert effectively in different settings.
Now you know your superpowers, you can figure out how best to use them when it comes to different networking scenarios. Here are some of our suggestions:
Face-to-face networking (for 1 to 1 or groups):
- Make achievable goals. (It’s the quality of people you want to meet, not the quantity)
- Connect with people before the event on social media.
- Identify icebreakers, questions and topics you want to discuss, so you’re prepared
- If at an event, host an introvert-friendly discussion group so you’re not alone!
- Bring a friend and ask them to introduce you to others.
- Arrive early.
- Smile and remember to relax as much as possible. This will improve your appearance, create trust and rapport and overall will help you feel good and comfortable.
- Take breaks to recharge.
- Follow up after the event – send a message thanking them for their time and invite them to reconnect at a future date. (This changes connections to relationships!)
Virtual event networking:
- Make achievable goals for the event.
- Based on your goals, make a list of people you want to connect with. Research them a little before the event.
- Draft a message you can send at the beginning of the event.
- Send out connection requests with attendees participating in the same event sessions – you can do this before, during and after the event.
Social media networking:
- Find groups on LinkedIn or Facebook that are about your industry, and start interacting with those posts. Try and set a target to reply to at least one comment or post per day.
- Join “introvert-friendly” groups online, such as Introvert Dear (an award-winning community for introverts), @theintrovertcommunity on Instagram, or Words for Introverts.
- LinkedIn is born for community building and networking! Start firing off those connection requests to people in your industry or similar job roles. If you start posting regularly and building your personal brand, you’ll quickly find invites to join webinars, groups and messages for building meaningful conversations. You’ll be able to connect with networks across the world!
Final word from our CEO Rosanna (who is also a self-confessed introvert!):
“I find working outside of my comfort zone is where I achieve greatness. I am naturally quite introverted and I find networking difficult in larger groups. But to get myself and my company where I want to be I will do whatever it takes, so I power on through. A top tip of mine is talking one on one with individuals at networking events, as that’s who I am naturally drawn to.”
Good luck introverts – we’re sure you’ll smash your next networking session.
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