How to network like a Pro even if you're an introvert

How to network like a pro

Networking can be intimidating, especially for introverts however with the right strategies and mindset, you can network like a pro. 

"...research shows that professional networks lead to more job and business opportunities, broader and deeper knowledge, improved capacity to innovate, faster advancement, and greater status and authority. Building and nurturing professional relationships also improves the quality of work and increases job satisfaction."

Source: Harvard Business School

 Here are some tips to help you network effectively, even if you're an introvert:

  1. Set clear goals: Determine what you want to achieve through networking. Whether it's finding new clients, new contacts, or industry knowledge, having a clear objective will give you direction and motivation.

  2. Start with familiar environments: Begin networking in comfortable settings like local Chamber of Commerce, industry conferences, workshops, or online forums where you are more likely to feel comfortable and confident. 

  3. Prepare and research: Before attending networking events or meetings, do your homework. Research the attendees, speakers, or organisations involved. This knowledge will give you talking points and make conversations smoother, and you want to ensure the group is made up of the people you are looking to connect with. Sounds obvious, but sometimes people don't invest the time in researching events and end up disappointed with the lack of relevance giving up on what can be an extraordinarily beneficial business growth tactic.

  4. Focus on quality over quantity: Instead of trying to meet as many people as possible, aim for meaningful connections. Engage in deep conversations and build relationships based on shared interests and mutual benefits.  This can take some effort but learning how to exit a conversation politely and move on becomes a critical skill to have to ensure that you can make the most of your time.

  5. Practice active listening: Introverts often excel at listening, so leverage this strength. Pay attention to others' conversations, show genuine interest, and ask thoughtful questions. This will help you establish rapport and make a memorable impression.

  6. Find common ground: Look for shared interests, hobbies, or professional experiences that can serve as conversation starters. By discussing topics you feel passionate about, you'll feel more comfortable and engaged in the conversation.

  7. Utilise online networking: Online platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook groups and industry-specific forums, can be excellent tools for networking. Engage in discussions, contribute value, and connect with professionals in your field. Online interactions can help you establish relationships before meeting in person.

  8. Take breaks and recharge: Recognise your limits as an introvert and allow yourself time to recharge during networking events. Find a quiet corner or take short breaks to recharge your energy. This will help you maintain your social stamina throughout the event.  I always remind myself that I can't be the only one feeling a little overwhelmed and nervous, and that most people are in the same boat and are likely to be more than happy to start a conversation with you.

  9. Follow up: After networking events, follow up with the people you connected with. Send personalised emails, LinkedIn messages, or handwritten notes expressing your appreciation for the conversation and suggesting ways to stay in touch.  This is such a valuable step in building connections as most people don't do this, and it will make you stand out amongst the host of other people they may have met at the event.

  10. Practice and step out of your comfort zone: Networking becomes easier with practice. Start with smaller networking opportunities and gradually challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone. Pushing your boundaries will help you grow more comfortable and confident in networking situations.

Remember, networking is about building relationships, and introverts often excel in one-on-one interactions. Leverage your strengths, be authentic, and focus on forging meaningful connections rather than trying to be the centre of attention.

BONUS TIP - Don't be afraid to introduce your new contacts to other new contacts as people see how genuine and considerate you are as you've identified a connection that may be beneficial to other parties other than yourself.  Building professional connections based on reciprocity can lead to stronger more beneficial relationships, sooner.

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