Knowing you’re an introvert is the first step. Owning it is the second. And figuring out how to harness your innate need for solo recalibration following social events is the third. Networking can be draining for introverts, but that doesn’t mean it’s unenjoyable. It starts with self-knowledge, and with our networking tips for introverts, you’ll discover not only ways to protect your energy but also where to network so that energy doesn’t get as drained as it does in a room full of strangers.
We’re on your side, introverts, so settle in to learn our top five tips on how to embrace your introversion, navigate networking with confidence, and build those business connections.
- Mentally Prepare Before Attending Networking Events
If you’re an introvert or love someone who is, you probably know that adding an event to your calendar starts the mental process of preparing for that event. Start with positive self-talk, maybe an affirmation or two, and add in some deep breaths. Help yourself feel at your best by pre-planning your outfit, your transportation, and even your exit strategy should you know that you may get drained or overwhelmed by other humans.
If you’re attending an event with a friend, it also helps to discuss ahead of time things like a code word or phrase for wanting to make a quick exit, an agreed-upon time you’ll depart, and talking points you’ll add to your toolbox to enjoy engaging conversations.
- Pre-Plan How You’ll Navigate Small Talk
We touched briefly on conversation points, and if you’re an introvert, you probably already know small-talk is not your favorite way to make friends. Introverts like to go deep early and really connect with the people they’re talking to. So, instead of talking about the weather or asking someone what they do for a living (*shudder*), consider your spin on questions like:
- What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on lately?
- Have you read any great books or listened to any podcasts lately that have been helpful in your work?
- What are your favorite ways to recharge after a long day?
And so on. It’s also okay to tell people you’re not a big fan of networking. You may surprise yourself with how many people agree!
- Make the Most of Online Networking Platforms
Networking from the comfort of your keyboard can be the best of both worlds for introverts, especially when you can post messages that can be responded to later. Immediacy is removed, you can get into a flow with your work, and engage with your friends on online networks when you’re in the mood to chat. There are wonderful groups across online platforms—ask around and find the best ones for you.
Leveraging technology is a great way for introverted professionals to stay connected while protecting their energy.
- Build Authentic Relationships
For introverts, quality is always better than quantity. That goes for conversations, relationships, and more. Networking as an introvert involves building relationships with depth and focusing on a few key relationships instead of attending multiple events per week, joining a large handful of groups, and so on. Trial and error is part of the process. As long as you stay committed to your goal of finding a few quality relationships and nurturing those, you’ll feel wonderfully successful as an introverted networker.
- Take Care of Yourself After Networking Events
Okay, so you’ve been to one or three networking events lately and you’re feeling the need to recharge. We get it! If you’re a journaler, reflect on your experience through writing. Soak in a warm bath. Take yourself outside. Crack open one of those books a new friend recommended when you were chatting. Self-care after networking events looks different for everyone, and introverts need a little more than extroverts usually do, so make sure you’re allocating time to that part as well.
Reflecting could also include following up on conversations you had with new connections. Find them on LinkedIn or Instagram and send a kind message before you go out on a long bike ride. You’ll find both of those things make you feel really good.
All personalities can thrive in professional networking environments, and while introverts may need to add mental preparation and processing time to their networking, you’ll still get a lot out of many professional events. With the right preparation, attitude, and care for yourself, anything is possible.