Depending on your personality type, networking can either sound like a lot of fun, or like absolute torture. While the outgoing among us have no trouble meeting new people or turning strangers into friends, introverts may find the entire prospect rather anxiety-producing.
And yet, business networking is a part of life, and a key to professional success—so what’s to be done? Fortunately, there is much that can be done for introverts to succeed at networking, without it being absolute torture. Let me explain.
How Introverts Can Excel at Business Networking
Prepare some questions. Before the event, sit down and list a few questions you might ask to help break the ice with people. I’m not talking about clichéd icebreakers or standard getting-to-know-you questions, either; think of some complex questions that might lead to a deeper, more personal connection.
Find the best place to camp out. Once you’re at the event, find a place in the room where you can comfortably hang out and greet people. I recommend being near the food. Being around food tends to make people happier—and chattier!
Ask a friend to introduce you. For key connections, ask a friend to serve as facilitator—which can make you feel more confident, and also make the person you’re meeting feel more trusting toward you.
Don’t be negative. If you want to be remembered for the right reasons, I recommend not complaining about work of about your current co-workers—even if you’re ultimately hoping to make a career transition. Speak positively of others and give plenty of compliments!
Ask about the other person. Not only can this take the pressure off you, but most people love talking about themselves—so it’s a win-win!
Highlight common ground. If the other person says something that resonates with you, or that illustrates a shared value, make sure you seize on it; draw attention to it. That can help make the connection stick!
Get Better at Business Networking
No matter how much you loathe the concept of business networking, it does matter—and you can be great at it. These tips should point you in the right direction.
This article originally appeared in Dr. Rick Goodman’s Blog.