Networking for Introverts

BreakingModern — If you’re an introvert, networking can be downright exhausting.

Contrary to popular belief, introverts aren’t necessarily shy or anti-social. According to psychologist Carl Jung, the difference between so-called “introverts” and “extroverts” all boils down to energy. Extroverts find social interactions energizing. Introverts find them draining.

For introverts, a night of making small talk with total strangers is the equivalent of a mental marathon.

If you’re among the 30 to 50 percent of the population who identify themselves as introverts, here are five tips to help you survive your next networking function. (Stay tuned. The last tip may help you avoid having to do all this schmoozing and hobnobbing in the first place!)

Alone in crowd networking introverts

Plan Ahead

If you can, carve out some space on your calendar before and after a networking event to recharge your introverted batteries. Don’t schedule a dinner party the night before you have to chit chat with a group of complete strangers. Don’t plan a big client presentation the day after that same dinner party — you might be too wiped out to make a positive impression. Plan a little yin to your networking yang, and you may find the experience to be less exhausting.

Embrace Your Introverted Tendencies

Extroverts approach a networking event as a mission to talk to everyone. But introverts know quantity does not equal quality. Networking is less overwhelming if you go into the event with the simple goal of having meaningful interactions with two or three people you haven’t met before. The whole point of networking is building relationships, not exchanging business cards with 50 strangers. Focus on having stimulating conversations with people who interest you, and you may start to think networking is kind of fun, and certainly do-able.

Ask Questions

Go into the event with a repertoire of six or seven open-ended questions you can use to strike up a conversation with a fellow attendee. Examples include: “What do you do outside of work?” and “How did you get started in this industry?” People love talking about themselves (well, extroverts do). This is an easy way to keep the conversation going without having to be in the spotlight.

alumni networking

Practice Your Elevator Story

Ask too many questions and your new friend may start to feel like he or she is being interrogated. Before your next networking event, come up with a few stories about yourself, your professional strengths and your hobbies. By practicing these in advance, you can spend all your energy at the event focusing on building relationships, rather than trying to explain what you like to do on the weekends.

Let Social Media do the Networking for You

Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are all great channels for expressing your passions and skills — without having to talk to a single human being. Use these feeds to share your professional updates, interesting news in your industry and the occasional personality-driven tweet. (As a good rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t say it in front of your boss’s boss, don’t post it on social media.) Use a scheduling tool like Buffer, and you’ll always be part of the conversation without ever having to make small talk.

For BMod, I’m .

Featured/First image credit:Alone in the crowd” by Christopher Michel via Flickr Creative Commons

Second image credit: Alumni_ConverseConnect_NY” by of University of Delaware Alumni Relations via Flickr Creative Commons

Helen Anne Travis

Author: Helen Anne Travis

Helen Anne Travis covers travel and lifestyle at BreakingModern. Follow her on Twitter @Helen_Anne.

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1 Comment

  1. Judy Heminsley

    All great tips, and I’d just add that connecting on social media makes face-to-face networking much easier because you feel you know the person already, and have lots to talk about. So start on social media and work up to - gulp - real people :-)

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