Business networking seems easy and tends to come naturally to extroverts. But what if you are an introvert? What do you do if attending a networking event is your worst nightmare? The good news is you can still master the art of networking.
Arrive early when there are fewer people and it is often easier to engage in meaningful conversation without being interrupted. Making one good connection can be the springboard to building your confidence.
Bring your wingman/woman
Having a colleague or friend with you can make it easier to strike up a conversation with others and perhaps they would be happy to introduce you to other people at the networking event.
Take a break
Networking events can sometimes be overwhelming for anyone. Make sure you take regular breaks. Perhaps you can step outside to check your email or take a call. You could even check the sports scores on your smartphone and use the latest football results as an ice breaker during your next networking chat.
Have a plan
It may help to write out a few ice breakers before attending your next networking event. A quick read of the business section of the newspaper or taking note of a few topical news stories could help you to strike up a conversation with someone new.
Networking is really about relationship building. Consider the people you meet as potential new friends and just explore getting to know them. Set yourself a target of making at least 1 or 2 new contacts at each networking event you attend and don’t feel the need to work your way around the entire room.
Prepare a few questions
It can be useful to prepare a few open questions which can help you get to know new people. General questions such as “Tell me about your business”, or “What trends are you seeing in the market?” can help you to get the other person talking. Remember – business people tend to enjoy talking about their own firms.