Introvert or extrovert? You wouldn’t think it matters, but the truth is, some people thrive on social interaction. Others don’t. I’m going to share some tips to help you have more energy when socializing, and how to become more adept at networking for introverts.
But even if you’re not an introvert, social interactions can sometimes be draining. The problem is these interactions tend to be the ones where you do need to be at your best.
Think about the last time you had a job interview or spent time in conversation with a mentor. Even the best conversations can leave you tired.
So, how do you turn this around and keep up your vitality for even the most draining social interactions? Here are my favorite strategies, tips, and ideas on networking for introverts in a business setting.
Imagine Who You Want to Be
If you want to have high energy during social interaction, you first need to picture yourself as someone who has this kind of energy. What does it look like? What kind of gestures would you use when speaking? What tone of voice do you use? Do you laugh or smile often? If you can picture the person you want to become, it’s much easier to become that person. This might seem like a form of acting, and at first, it might well be, but the more you do it, the more authentic this high-energy version of yourself will become.
I practiced this strategy when I attended a Rotary Club meeting in the summer of 2006. I had recently resigned from my classroom teaching position, as well as giving my best real estate clients to others who could serve them better to come online as an entrepreneur. I was in the process of restarting and pivoting to a new life, and this was my first opportunity to network professionally.
Try Being Someone Else
Who do you admire who has a lot of energy? This might be an actor or celebrity, or it might be your own best friend. When interacting socially, start asking yourself how this other individual would likely act in the same situation. Do what they do. Again, mimicking high energy has a funny way of becoming high energy.
Try Some Coffee
This one won’t work for everyone, but coffee is a great stimulant. If you know you’re going to be needing a lot of energy for an upcoming social situation, why not have a cup of coffee beforehand? You might need to experiment with this slightly to figure out how much coffee gives you an optimal amount of energy without leaving you jittery.
When attention lags, it’s natural to come off as being more low energy. By remaining interested in your surroundings and especially in the people around you, you naturally maintain a higher level of energy. Start taking note of details. This has the added benefit of giving you things to talk about.
Deal with Stress
If the energy drains right out of you in social situations, chances are it’s because you’re stressed. Any time you’re experiencing anxiety, your body takes more energy to get through simple tasks. With this in mind, the best way to get more energy for social situations is the deal with the root of the anxiety you’re feeling when being social. This might mean dealing with some baggage. It’s worth it in the end, though.
How to Make Networking Events Less Stressful
How many people do you know who actually enjoy networking? If you’re like most people, you find it awkward or uncomfortable, and if you’re an introvert, it might even feel excruciating. Let’s discuss networking for introverts and how to make this less stressful.
But you know that effective networking is crucial for your career, whether you’re looking for a new job, a promotion, or to build your business. Excellent networking skills are essential if you want to get ahead. So how can you make it less stressful? Try these tips to get more out of your network, and maybe you’ll even enjoy it!
1. Do your homework
You wouldn’t dream of going to a job interview or an important meeting without preparing, would you? Treat networking events the same. Find out as much as you can about the event, who’s organizing it, and who will be there. Study the sponsor’s website and arm yourself with knowledge, so you have two or three topics of conversation to help break the ice and start connecting with other participants.
2. Find yourself a role
If it’s appropriate, see if there’s any way you can volunteer to help out. If you have some official position, you have a ready-made pretext to connect with people. Make sure to check in with the organizers first, but maybe they could do with some extra people to staff the registration desk or set out welcome packs.
Perhaps you could offer to take event photos or live Tweet. At question time, you could help pass the microphone. Once I officially joined Rotary, I took full advantage of this strategy to feel more comfortable as an introvert in a networking situation.
3. Take a friend
Who says you have to go to networking events alone? It will feel much better if you invite a friend or colleague to share the learnings. Not only will you feel braver about connecting, but you’ll also likely look more approachable than if you’re standing alone radiating anxiety. My closest friend continues to say that networking for introverts is best accomplished with a friend in tow.
4. Find the key networker
You can take the stress off yourself by looking around to find the extrovert, the natural networker who knows everyone. In any big group, there will always be one or two people who are enjoying connecting with people. Find that person and benefit from their positive networking. Follow in their wake, and you will find it much easier to join in the conversation.
5. Turn it into a game
Try taking the heat off yourself by turning networking into a game. Before you go, make yourself a list or even a bingo card of things you want to achieve. Your networking goals can include things like connecting with two people, handing your business card to five people, connecting on LinkedIn to three people.
As you can see, networking for introverts is doable! Focus on your goal, review these tips and strategies, and go forth to connect with the people who will help to make a difference in your life and business.
I’m bestselling Wall Street Journal and USA Today author, marketing strategist, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and I would love to connect further with you to help you to achieve your goals. If you are interested in learning how to optimize the syndication of your content, please take a look at my popular Syndication Optimization training course and consider coming aboard to increase your visibility, credibility, and profitability.