10 Networking Tips For Introverts

By Maddie Lloyd - Apr. 14, 2021
Articles In Life At Work Guide

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For us introverts, attending a big networking event can seem like a complete and utter nightmare. It’s a time where we’re pushed out of our comfort zones and forced to make mindless chit-chat with a bunch of strangers. As an introvert, could you think of anything more torturous?

Here’s the deal:

Networking is an important aspect of job hunting. Having a connection at a company is a great way to get your foot in the door, and having someone to vouch for you can land you an interview over other candidates.

Even if the idea of networking with total strangers is anxiety-inducing, it doesn’t have to be so torturous. Here are 8 tips on networking for introverts:

1Do Your Networking Online

If the thought of networking events makes you want to curl up and die, cut out the awkward chit chat altogether and take your networking online.

Get active on your professional Twitter account and interact with people in your industry. Take full advantage of your LinkedIn profile and the connections — connect with industry influencers, send them emails, you’ll start reaping new contacts in no time.

These days, virtual career fairs are also becoming more prevalent. Being able to have conversations with other professionals from the comfort of your own home can do wonders for social anxiety. Just be sure to follow the same video call etiquette you’d practice in a virtual interview.

2Bring an Ally

When you’re headed to a big gathering full of strangers, it can be super comforting to bring a friend or acquaintance along to ease your nerves. Having an ally at big networking events can ease up your anxiety and help you to get out of your shell and start conversations with potential connections.

If you show up to an event without an ally, try to make one. We can guarantee that you’re probably not the only one at a networking event who’s also scared to death.

Scope out the crowd and see if there’s someone else in attendance who’s having a difficult time starting conversations. Once you’ve found your target, aim to make that person your new friend. Pro tip: “Have ever been to one of these events before?” is a great opening line for a conversation.

3Have an Agenda

Before you go into your next networking event, make sure to have an idea of who you want to talk to, what you want to talk about, and what you hope to get out of the conversation.

Look up the people you want to talk to and get an idea of their background to think of conversation starters and questions to ask about their career, like “What motivates you?” or “How did you get started in your career?” Brush up on your small talk skills and focus on making a good impression.

When you go into an event knowing exactly what you want to gain from it, it can make all difference in your confidence.

4Smile and Be Friendly

It’s one thing to be shy, but it’s another thing to look bored or even grumpy. Slap a smile on your face and try to look like you’re engaged with the event and the people who are there.

You don’t always have to start the conversation, but if you come off ass unhappy or unfriendly, you’re not going to make any valuable connections. Relax, smile, and try to make yourself approachable so people are more willing to speak to you.

Once you’ve got a conversation going, be present while speaking with your new acquaintance. If you’re worried about what you’re going to say next, keep the focus on them. Ask them questions about themselves and show off your superior listening skills.

Finally, put that smartphone away for the whole day. You might feel awkward with seemingly nothing to do but stand around, but when you whip out your phone, you instantly become unapproachable.

5Keep In Touch With Old Contacts

When you’re all caught up in the whirlwind of making new connections wherever you can, it’s easy to get lost and forget about the connections you already have.

Pro tip: Don’t forget where you came from. Stay in touch with your old contacts and maintain your professional relationship with them. Send them emails to catch up with them and ask about their career.

Schedule coffee dates (they’re just so professional) and make it a priority to reach out to your old contacts on a regular basis, not just when you need a favor.

You don’t want to be remembered as that jerk who only comes around when they need something. You never know who could come in handy during a job search, so you don’t want to put anyone on the back burner.

6Get a One-on-One Meeting

You don’t have to wait for a big event or a career fair to do your networking. Big group conversations and events can be intimidating for us introverts, so just cut out the middleman and request a one-on-one meeting with a potential connection.

One-on-one conversations are a great opportunity to show off your listening and people skills. Request meet-ups for coffee or whatever other craving tickles your fancy. Reach out to your friends and colleagues to set you up with meetings with people outside of your network.

7Be Good to Yourself

Recognize and nurture your introverted side — don’t do any major socializing the day before the event and plan a nice relaxing evening for yourself after the event. Social situations can be really draining for introverts, so build in buffer times to recharge your batteries.

Also, be sure to eat a meal before the event and stay hydrated throughout. It’s fine to have a drink if it’s that sort of event, but don’t go overboard trying to calm your nerves with booze. The same goes for over-caffeinating.

Finally, shut that self-critical voice in your head up for the day (or at least turn the volume way down). Remember all of the people who like you — chances are they’re not an incredibly rare species and other people out there will enjoy talking to you as well.

8Have a Plan

Thinking of stuff to say on the spot is not a strong suit for many introverts. Prepare a few conversation starters and questions to get the ball rolling. When you have a few different ways to enter into a dialogue with someone and keep the momentum going, you’ll get over your nervousness before you know it.

You can expect awkward moments at these things — for everyone, not just the introverts. If it gets to be too stressful at times, have a place to retreat to (hotel room, cafe, etc.) where you can decompress for a second. But don’t ditch the event entirely; once you’ve got your mojo back, head back in.

9Follow Up

Make sure to keep track of who you meet, where you met them, and what you talked about whenever you attend networking events. The next day, send personalized emails, add your new connections on LinkedIn, or follow them on Twitter to really solidify the new additions to your network.

A post-event example email might look something like this:

Hi Joanne,

It was lovely meeting you at the Northeast Regional Accounting Conference last week. I enjoyed learning about the great insights you had into how XYZ software is going to allow for more efficient and scaleable payroll systems at a fraction of the cost.

Our conversation got me interested in looking for open positions at ABC Inc. Would you be available for a 10-15 minute phone or video call to discuss possibilities?

All the best,
Samantha Johnson

Of course, you don’t always have to ask about job opportunities right away. If the person is genuinely interesting (and the feeling seemed mutual), then feel free to just pick up the conversation where you left off. Even sharing an article or blog post that’s related to your conversation along with a brief comment can be a low-key way to stay in touch.

10Stay True to Yourself

While you should aim to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people, you shouldn’t force yourself to do anything that would make you visibly uncomfortable.

For instance, if you hate being the center of attention — you don’t have to be. Instead of making yourself the focus of the conversation, ask others about their career and their current goals. Show that you’re listening, ask follow-up questions, and you’ll be remembered as an attentive person with great communication skills.

Plus, you’ll be a great audience member for those extroverts who need a crowd for their enchanting stories and hilarious jokes. They’ll be happy you’re there to lend an ear.

Final Thoughts

Networking can be super intimidating for those of us who would just rather…not. Introverted or not, having a good network is essential when it comes to finding a job. Having good contacts can get head in your job search, and even help you land your dream job.

The most important tip is to remember that you’re not alone. So many people are naturally introverted that you can guarantee that you’re not the only shy person in the room. Just try to find an ally, step out of your comfort zone, and remember — the torture will be over soon enough.

Now it’s time to get out there and build your network. Good luck!

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Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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