Many people don’t take advantage of networking opportunities because they feel too shy, awkward or introverted to be good at it, but the truth is that everyone has their struggles when it comes to networking. The trick is learning what works best for you as an introvert instead of pretending to be extroverted or completely skipping out on networking.
We spoke with Freddie Silveria, a career and life coach, to get networking tips for introverts.
Many people go to networking events to make business connections to advance their career, but the truly strong connections are built through trusting relationships. Therefore, don’t think about networking as a business move, but instead as a relationship-building tool. Silveria says shifting your mindset in this way will reduce the pressure to perform well. “The best networking advice is to go into networking with enthusiasm and sincere care to want to be interested in others,” he says.
One of the biggest networking struggles for introverts is starting a conversation or making introductions. Silveria suggests easing this issue by reviewing the event’s attendee list beforehand and emailing people you are interested in meeting. This creates a surefire way of connecting with someone at the event and lets you skip awkward introductions. If there isn’t an attendee list or you don’t have a specific person you want to connect with, contact the organizers and ask them to introduce you to someone at the event. Organizers will want to help you out, so don’t be afraid to contact them, Silveria says.
Your body language, tone of voice and attire will speak volumes about your character and interest level in a conversation. Remember to stand up straight, smile and lean in when you are speaking with someone to show you are engaged. When you speak, think about the speed, pitch and volume of your words; you don’t want to sound hurried or anxious. And when it comes to attire, Silveria says to think about wearing something that will catch someone’s eye, like a pin, bowtie or bright color. “People love to compliment each other, and something that stands out is an easy way for someone to start a conversation with you,” he says.
If anxiety strikes you at a networking event, Silveria advises taking a deep breath and heading to the refreshments table. Take your time to gather yourself and then strike up a conversation with someone else at the table. Use the food or drinks as a conversation starter, then slowly move to introductions. “There’s a reason millions of people meet over coffee, happy hour and lunch,” he says. “It’s because conversations and trust happen over food and drink.”
After a networking event, be sure to follow up with all of your new connections. The best way to remember everyone and what you discussed is to write it down on the business card they gave you. Within 24 hours of the event, sit down and send a personal email to each person you spoke with. Silveria suggests writing a three- to five-sentence message, following the simple formula of showing thanks and appreciation, sharing something you two talked about and ending with a call to action. “Networking is 50 percent first impressions and 50 percent follow up,” so don’t forget this crucial step, he says.
Louisiana Job Connection is a full-service employment hub.Complete your profile today and let Louisiana Job Connection match you with a job that’s tailored for your skills and experience.