- Networking can help us build our careers and expand our professional contacts
- But for some introverts, it can be a daunting task
- Use these tips to create connections without the stress
We all know how important networking is as we build a career and expand our professional contacts. Networking is an increasingly effective method of finding gainful employment through what is referred to as the “hidden job market.” It beats sending countless resumes into the great applicant tracking system (ATS) abyss.
Even though we recognize just how critical a role networking plays in our professional lives, that doesn’t mean it always comes naturally. For introverts, in particular, standing in a room full of strangers, with the added pressure of making a great first impression, is without a doubt a daunting task.
The truth is that even introverts can become expert networkers if they keep a few simple tips and tricks in mind. We’ve outlined some of the best conversation starters, mingling protocols, and networking expectations to help introverts create authentic, peer-to-peer connections.
Manage Your Mindset
If you’re someone who recoils at the very idea of mingling, it’s easy to enter a networking event with trepidation. But approaching networking with such hesitancy can exacerbate your feelings of discomfort.
Realize that many other attendees at the event have the same level of nerves that you do. This will help you to feel less alone and put your mind at ease. Instead of worrying about the people you will meet or that one awkward thing you might say, focus on building meaningful connections that will last long after you leave the event.
Set Reasonable Expectations
Set a few simple, quantifiable benchmarks for yourself. For example, I will talk to three people I don’t know tonight; or: I will stay for two hours, but won’t pressure myself to stay longer; or: I won’t spend more than five minutes talking to people I already know well.
When we go into a new social situation with added nerves, it can be tempting to use friends or acquaintances as crutches so that new interactions feel less scary. Fight the urge to rely on these connections too heavily—you’ll run the risk of hiding behind familiar faces. If you do this, you may miss the opportunity to meet new people, and therefore miss the point of attending a networking event in the first place.
Interject Without Fear
Be proactive about introducing yourself as soon as you join a new group. You’ll put others at ease (who are likely experiencing a bit of anxiety themselves) and encourage others to reintroduce themselves. This is also a great way for others in the group to learn and recall new names.
As foreign as it may feel, be the one to drive the conversation at your next professional engagement. As introverts, we tend to find comfort in observing the situation long before interacting, while we fade into the background and half-heartedly nod along to jokes. But at networking events—especially in large groups—time is of the essence as you try and interact with as many new people as possible. Interject with one of the best conversation starters to keep the mood light, but still get to know attendees on a deeper level.
Ask questions like:
- What do you do to unwind?
- What’s at the top of your travel wishlist?
- What’s a social issue you’re passionate about?
- What turn in your career path did you not expect? What did you learn?
Listen When You Don’t Know What to Say
Although you should feel empowered to enter any conversation, resist the urge to initiate every conversation. If you’re racking your brain trying to come up with a witty remark, pause instead to listen. Follow up with a thought-provoking question when opportunity strikes.
Being a good listener goes a long way. As research shows, people like talking about themselves. Give them the chance to do so. Although new contacts may not remember every last detail you shared at the event, they won’t forget your ability to listen well and show genuine interest.
Maintain a Positive Outlook
Keep your spirits high, no matter the outcome. Acknowledge what is in your control and what isn’t. Focus on the positive, even if there are awkward moments. Each connection you make at an event is not just about that initial interaction—it’s about the relationship you build for the long haul. So even if you stumble through those first conversations, find comfort in knowing you have many more opportunities to make a great impression.
Finally, remember that every networking event is unique. If the outcome of your next gathering isn’t what you expected, there will surely be others in the future.
Mixtroz helps even the biggest introverts take control of their networking success. By gathering data about each guest before the mingling ensues, Mixtroz sets the stage for meaningful interactions between guests - Every Time!
Getting started is easy! To learn more about how the Mixtroz works, check out the platform’s free demo.