Networking for Introverts

Networking for Introverts

Networking is a valuable, potentially career-changing, social activity that half of the professional working population thrives on while the other half suffers through. I’m an introvert to the core and there’s nothing wrong with that! But for me and many other introverts, networking can become this awkward ordeal, instead of the valuable opportunity it’s supposed to be. I attended my first networking event this week and, after a slow start, I had a great experience! I’ve put together these tips so you can go into your first networking event with confidence.

 

Bring a Wingman

If you have a difficult time approaching strangers to start or join in a conversation, bring a friend with you. For the first 15 minutes of the event, the only person I talked to was my co-worker! To everyone else, I appeared to be networking, while in reality I was making smalltalk with someone I already knew. But that’s better than just standing around, not talking to anyone.

 

After talking with my co-worker for a while, I felt like a was really participating in the event. This gave me the confidence to take the next step.

 

Introduce Yourself

If you’re like me then you hate interrupting people. Watch the conversations around you and look for a lull. If you see a couple people taking a pause from their conversation to take a drink or grab some food, that’s when you strike! Walk up and introduce yourself confidently and, of course, shake hands. Congratulations, you’re networking! Now what?

 

Have a Conversation

It’s a good idea to think of a few conversation starters before you go to the event. You could tell people where you work or what field you are in. You could even say what field of work you would like to move into. Your conversation could be driven by the type of networking event you are attending. For example, the event I attended was held at The Ocean Foundation, so many of my conversations discussed ocean conservation topics and environmental issues in general.

 

Make Connections

If you don’t have business cards, get some! They’re well-priced on Vistaprint and they have a good variety of styles. Always bring your cards to networking events. You will be much more memorable and come across as more professional if you hand someone a business card, rather than a napkin with your email on it. Give your card to everyone you talk to, you never know who will be a valuable connection down the line! When you collect business cards, it’s a good idea to quickly write on the back where you met that person and something unique about them or the conversation you had. You will thank yourself in the future when you have a big pile of business cards!

 

My business card and holder

My business card is a magnet - I want it to stick around!

 

Follow Up

You survived the networking event, great job! But the networking doesn’t end when you walk out the door. Add the people you met to your LinkedIn network. Using the information you wrote on the back of the business cards, you will be able to write a personal invitation to each new connection and say how great it was to meet them.

 

I hope these tips help and make you feel more knowledgeable and confident walking into your first networking event!

 

Museum of the Week

This week I visited the National Museum of the American Indian. Other than being an amazing museum inside, the building itself is one of the coolest I have ever seen!

 

American Indian Museum

The entire building is this very curvaceous, organic shape.

 

The museum features native people from the Americas, all the way from Alaska to Chile. I learned the ancient beliefs and customs of several tribes and how tribes operate today. A great place to start your visit is in their small theater on the fourth floor. The audience sits in a circle around a set of screens in the center of the room. This style of room, round with everyone facing the middle, is common across native cultures. The free video explains who the native people are and gives a bit of background. It’s a really cool experience because not only do you have the screen in the middle of the room, the ceiling is also a screen, as well as a large rock below the main screen. Each shows something different that relates to the other, so it’s a very immersive viewing experience! This museum definitely made it into my Top 5!

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