No matter where you are in your career, there’ll come a time when you’ll have to network. And while you may never love networking, there are adjustments you can do to make the activity a strength and not a fear.
Here, we discuss five tips to help you network better if you’re shy or introverted.
1. Bring a friend
Bringing a friend or colleague to a networking event is a simple but effective way to get situated. While it’s not ideal to spend time with someone you know throughout an event, having a familiar face in your corner for introductions and to build your credibility (so you don’t come across like you’re bragging about yourself) helps boost your confidence.
2. Arrive early
If you’re shy, get to the event early (i.e. the beginning) as there are fewer people there at this time, making it easier for you to engage in a conversation with a potential contact. Meeting one good connection early in the event will help your confidence soar, making it easier for you to engage with others throughout the course of the event.
3. Set yourself a realistic goal
Rather than ‘working the room’ to meet as many people as possible, set yourself a goal to meet two or three strong connections during the event. Putting yourself under pressure to collect hundreds of business cards won’t work but with a reasonable goal you can fully engage in each conversation and won’t feel restricted with your time. Plus, once you’ve reached your goal, you can leave the event (if you wish to).
4. Schedule in ‘time outs’
Even if you don’t consider yourself shy, networking events can be overwhelming for everyone, so make sure you take regular breaks to catch your breath and refocus your mind.
5. Prepare icebreakers
Research the event and the type of people attending so you can have a few icebreaker questions or topics in mind. They can be business/career related like ‘what motivated you to come to this event?’, ‘how long have you been involved with your organisation?’, ‘what projects are you currently working on?’ or more light-hearted questions like ‘I’m not sure where to go on holiday this year, have you been on a good holiday recently?’ or ‘what’s keeping you busy these days?’. Having talking points will make it easier to start a conversation and keep it going.