Networking for Introverts: A 5-Step Guide to Breaking Out Of Your Comfort Zone

There’s no questioning the importance of curating a strong network when it comes to taking your #fempire to the next level. It is through our networks that we gain industry knowledge, expand our mindsets and build lasting relationships that bring forth new opportunities.

Search the internet and you’ll get plenty of advice on how to network, where to meet people and more. When it comes to networking as an introvert, however, many are left feeling overwhelmed and defeated by the suffocating awkwardness of loud social situations and meeting new people, often forcing themselves to learn the traits that seem to come almost effortlessly to extroverts.

Introversion vs. Shyness

When we take a look at what it honestly means to be an introvert, common misperceptions may arise like the belief that introverts hate being around people and  are bad at socialising. In truth, introversion refers to the preferred way in which an individual recharges their energy.

In contrast to extroverts, introverts tend to build their energy alone in quiet spaces. Shyness, on the other hand, can be described as an excessive self-consciousness that paralyses an individual through overly negative self-judgement.

When it comes to creating a networking strategy, it is important to differentiate the two. Believe it or not, by embracing the true authenticity of your introversion, you can succeed in networking on your own terms!

5 Steps to Working a Room

For Introverts

Step 1: Honour Your Introversion

As you prepare for networking events, it’s important to respect and own the way you recharge. Most likely, networking will demand you to step out of your comfort zone, which could leave you overextended if overdone. Take initiative to schedule a “buffer” time before and after social events to both prepare and recharge your energy.

Step 2: Do Something that You Enjoy

Instead of forcing yourself to attend events and networking in ways that you simply do not enjoy, find opportunities that encompass things that you’re passionate about. This will make the overall networking experience much more pleasant and, most likely, your conversation will flow more naturally.

Step 3: Create a (Reasonable) Gameplan

Attending networking events with unrealistic expectations in mind can leave you feeling disappointed. Set obtainable goals in mind before attending events. After all, one or two meaningful connections throughout the night may suit you better than small talk with 20+ people. It may also help to have a few icebreakers and conversation topics on hand to break through any initial awkwardness.

Step 4: Use Your Natural Introvert Skills

More often than not, introverts are natural listeners. This can be an incredible advantage when it comes to making genuine connections with people. True, uninterrupted listening is rare and will make you more memorable in other’s eyes. Be patient, listen, and ask questions to fuel the conversation.

Step 5: Minimise Distractions

What is the one thing people do when they feel uncertain about themselves? Perhaps they pull out their smartphones, turn to food or drinks, or even fidget with their clothes or hair. Recognise these patterns that make you appear closed off, even if it makes you feel safe. Having an open body language will not only give you a not only give you more confidence in the long run, it will also make you appear more inviting to conversation.

When it comes to networking, above all the charisma and confidence in the world, authenticity will triumph every time. Don’t be afraid to stay true to your authentic self, especially if it means being an introvert. Honour your preferences and make networking work for you!

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