Networking for Introverts

…the more I did it, the easier it got…

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We always hear the saying “your network determines your net worth”, but what about those who are afraid or shy away from approaching unfamiliar faces.  Believe it or not, I get really awkward (in my opinion) when it’s time for me to speak to someone about what I do. I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert per say.  However, I have always struggled with “small talk”. I’m fairly reserved and if i could have my way, I’d prefer to people watch.

My first experience with networking came early on in my career, in public accounting. We would have after work mixers, and team building outings that forced us to meet new faces.  Initially, I would go off in a corner or stick with familiar faces, to avoid having to talk to new people.  It wasn’t until I became a business owner that I had to force myself to actually talk to people.  The one thing I will say is, the more I did it, the easier it got.

For those of us, who may struggle with initiating conversation and/or  are somewhat uncomfortable with networking, I’ve put together 5 tips for navigating the next networking opportunity.

1. Have a glass of wine.

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Most professional networking events, usually have a bar serving beer and wine. Having a glass of wine could ease some of the introduction jitters.  However, be careful not to overindulge. There is always one…always one.  Don’t let it be you!

2. Prepare an Elevator Speech

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Think about 4 to 5 key things that people should know about you.  Don’t pull out your flashcards and read them word for word.  Instead, become familiar with the list before and you will have talking points for each encounter.

3. Bring Business Cards

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If you want to make things more awkward, show up without business cards.  Otherwise, order them, and give them to each individual you meet. Also when people give you their cards, write a little note, to help you remember who each person was.  For example, if you meet Derek, and he tells you about his love for snickers, you may want to write “Snickers” on his card, to help you connect the face with the name.

4. Be YOURSELF

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I know you are Beyoncé by night, but just try to keep it together :).  Be considerate of your audience, and STILL BE YOURSELF!  You will fill more confident and comfortable, if you stick with being the person you know best…YOU!

5. Understand THIS: People NEED to Know You!

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The only way for people to get to know about your business, or your contribution to an organization, is by you telling them.  Walk in confidence and know that people meeting you, is equally important as you meeting them!

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