Is society an easier place for the extrovert? Business and social situations seem not only easier but more enjoyable for the naturally outgoing. At least that is the typical opinion of most introverts. Extroverts don’t agree or disagree this notion; they just don’t think about it. They are too busy being themselves in an environment that suits them. And that’s great—and authentic. The good news for the introvert is that you can feel that way, too.
Contrary to what introverts might think, extroverts face their own challenges connecting. Introverts should know that they can feel completely at ease in business and social situations. What’s more, being introverted actually can be a strength. Introverts are often naturally equipped to initiate connections because they tend to be good listeners and thrive in the one-on-one conversations. And that is where real connections are formed.
If you are an introvert, the key is to listen to your own rhythms. Don’t try to emulate your gregarious colleagues; instead, pay attention to what makes you comfortable. Do you get tired after a long night of chitchat? It’s okay to leave a function on the early side, to connect with whomever you need to and then bow out before the shindig dies down. When you are part of a group conversation, do you prefer to listen to others and only speak up when you have something to say? Then by all means, do just that. It’s entirely fine.
Here are five tips for networking an event like an introvert.
1. Arrive early. At the start of an event everyone is a little lost and looking for someone to talk with. It is actually easier to find someone to chat with when the room is not yet crowded. Throughout the night, those early conversations become familiar faces that are easier to approach when larger groups are participating in the conversations.
2. Stay late. The end of the event is another more relaxed time for connecting. The energy in the room has calmed and conversations seem to come easier with the practice from earlier. Helping to pack up or walk out with someone is disarming and enables an ease with a timed end to a new conversation.
3. Volunteer. Having a job assigned gives you both purpose and permission to talk with people. Even easier, you have a built-in topic related to your volunteer post. The goal will be to expand on the conversation.
4. Position yourself. Even if you do not have a specific role assigned, you can still position yourself in a place where people may ask for help. By the door, you can direct people to the registration area. In the lobby area people are always looking for the restroom. Make yourself useful and quick connection points can lead to longer conversations.
5. Take breaks. This is key to keeping a productive energy throughout an event. Stepping out for some air, a bathroom break, or the quick cell phone check gives an introvert the time needed to reenergize and return ready to connect.
Find the balance between networking like an introvert and stretching your boundaries. Sometimes being a little uncomfortable is how we grow our skills. As an introvert, you’re in a realm where being extroverted is championed, but you know your own talents and skills.
Now you know that you can network with the best of ‘em.