Recently, I attended a networking event with my boyfriend to try and get my name out there and hopefully make a few new business connections.
So, how did it go?
It was ok, but mostly awkward. Why?…
Because I’m an introvert, that’s why.
Now, I was very happy that I took my boyfriend along, because otherwise I would have spent the entire evening standing in the corner with my wine glass up to my noise and staring at the ground. Luckily, I was able to break out of my shell and speak with a few people, but it all just felt so..wrong. I continuously felt like I was playing the role of a salesperson, and the product that I was trying to sell was myself.
For the record, I can’t stand salespeople. I’ve never liked them. Even when I was younger and didn’t know what a salesperson was, I still got that uncomfortable feeling every time I was around one.
So, now that we’ve established the fact that I hate salespeople and can’t stand talking about myself…what if you’re in a similar situation? Because I want to continue networking (it’s a must in the business world nowadays), I consulted my friend Google to help me figure out how to become comfortable with networking as an introvert.
Here are three great tips that I found:
1) Prepare in advance for the event: There are many different ways of preparing for an event, but this one is all about self-care. For some, event preparation could mean being more quiet than usual for a few days in advance of event, and also building in a “buffer” of alone time to decompress after the event. If you’re an introvert, this kind of pre- and post-event planning is critical. You must make it a priority to recharge your batteries if you want to avoid burn out.
2) Set a reasonable goal for the event: Another good word here would be an attainable goal. What is “reasonable” for everyone varies, and even seemingly small successes are important. One possible goal could be to stay at the event for an hour. Another goal could be to introduce yourself to three new people (or just one new person if three is too daunting). You can even set goals for after the event, such as contacting the people you introduced yourself to via e-mail. Setting a goal helps you focus on something other than your introversion, and gives you a reason to stretch beyond your comfort zone.
3) Bring a friend: Just knowing someone there already can help you feel more relaxed, and that comes across in your body language and voice. Even better, bring an extroverted friend who’s willing to play “networking wingman” for you and help make introductions on your behalf.
Hope these tips help, fellow introverts!
Granny Smith- Over and Out