Networking events, those meetings full of other business owners, where you think you have to appear energetic, extroverted and walk away with new business? It seems likely you’ll feel somewhere between excited and nervous. If you are an introvert going to a networking event, you’re more likely to be at the nervous end of the scale. Why and what should you do about it?
Introverts rarely feel energised attending networking events.
In research interviews introverts started off saying they were nervous before attending networking events; when they had time to reflect (something us introverts do well), they revised that opinion to a cross between apprehensive and uncomfortable.
Introverts are social.
Introverts are social, although prefer smaller groups or people they know well. That can make networking events harder work for introverts.
An introvert may, or may not be, shy. Being shy would be much more likely to cause fear, discomfort, or worse with regards going to a networking event. An introvert would, typically, prefer not to spend time with larger groups of people as it tires them (see what is an introvert).
7 tips to make your networking event more pleasant
- Go with a buddy. Being with somebody you know makes conversations easier. You’ll feel less stressed and then it’s easier to get into other conversations. But do tell your buddy first!
- Have a clear plan. It makes it much easier to get through a networking event if you have an achievable objective and an idea of how you’ll get it.
- Volunteer to help. Having a role in the meeting will make it much easier, that role might be as easy as introducing new guests or getting feedback about the event. The role makes it easier to get into, and out of conversations.
- Practice some “small talk”. OK, introverts hate small talk, but it does happen! What recent news events, sports results or local issues could you have a view on? This will make it easier to talk, and then move into a business discussion.
- Remember your introvert super-powers. You are blessed with being a great listener, which means that in a group conversation you can ask the powerful questions that nobody else has thought of. You could also summarise discussions earning respect of others in the discussion who may have lost track.
- Don’t try to be an extrovert. You’re not, so don’t pretend. Yes, you can go and talk to people, be a great actor, speaker and many other things. However, trying to act like an extrovert will be tiring, stick with your strengths.
- Plan recovery time. After spending time with others, introverts can easily feel tired, so plan some quiet recovery time immediately afterwards.
Networking events can be a great way to meet new business people, that you could add to your network and (over time) develop a business relationship with. The magic happens outside of the event, when you do what you’re good at, building and sustaining relationships . Don’t avoid networking events simply because you’re an introvert.
- Virtual networking for introverts
- Networking meetings - Post Covid
- Should you arrive early to networking events?
Charlie Lawson, author of "The Unnatural Networker" and Director of BNI-UK knows a thing or two about networking. Here's what he said about how introverts can improve their networking.