Most people, especially introverts, find networking to be very awkward. Here are 7 tips to make networking a little easier and more comfortable.
#1. Start with who you know
Start with the people you already know and feel comfortable with. Invite them to go with you to events and ask them to introduce you to the people there they know. Be sure to take someone who’s extroverted so they can also introduce you to the new people they’ll easily meet there.
#2. Have your contacts give a “heads-up”
When friends give you the name of one of their contacts, ask them to let their contact know ahead of time you’ll be contacting him or her. This gives the person a “heads up” and it will be clear why you’re contacting him or her.
#3. Email before calling
If you’re going to make cold calls to industry people, start first by sending them an email or connecting with them on LinkedIn.
#4. Develop talking points
It’s good for you to know what you want to talk about before aimlessly engaging in conversation. Decide ahead of time which questions you want to ask and what points you want to make. Also, frame your conversation with small talk. Start and end your networking conversations with small talk, and have the middle part of it be about business.
#5. Network during your peak time of energy
If you have more energy in the mornings, attend networking breakfasts. If evenings are your peak time of energy, go to events held after work hours. Know what works best for you. Be selective by only attending those events which work best for your energy level and what you hope to gain.
#6. Set goals and allow time to re-charge
If you know you’re usually tapped out after talking to only 3 or 4 people, then go to an event with the goal of meeting only 3 or 4 new people. Afterward, go home or to a quiet place to re-charge.
#7. Push through the discomfort
Acknowledge any discomfort you feel and push through it. While it may be more comfortable to network via email or LinkedIn, you eventually have to get out from behind the computer. If you still feel intimidated by the idea of attending a networking event with numerous people, start with one-on-one meetings and informational interviews.
For more easy networking tips for both introverts and extroverts, check out paNASH’s on-demand program The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively. Learn about informational interviewing, networking etiquette, and when/where to network. As a result, you’ll be better prepared and will feel more at-ease in future networking situations. And you’ll make stronger connections with those who have hiring power.