Don’t Be Scared – 6 Quick Tips for Shy Networkers
By Mary Clayton, Digital Marketing Manager
You walk into a networking event. Your eyes dart back and forth hoping to find a familiar face, but you can’t find a soul you know. We’ve all been there before – feeling like the last kid that got picked in gym class, in awkward social situations. Stop yourself from looking like a deer in headlights and follow these simple networking tips for shy, introverted, or just plain scared professionals.
- Get Out of Your Head– Stop feeling like you don’t fit in or people will feel that way too! Now is time to fake it ‘til you make it! Take a second and go to the restroom. Think about a time when you were having a lot of fun with a group of your friends. Focus on that feeling for a minute and then get your butt out there to mix and mingle.
- Start with Small Talk – Smile and make eye contact. Once you approach a person introduce yourself and start a small conversation. For the love of god do not talk about the weather. There is no better way to start things on a boring note. Don’t know where to start? Ask questions about the host organization or even the event’s location.
- Ask Amazing Questions – Forget long, awkward pauses by asking great questions. You don’t want to feel like you’re in an interview, so pick something relatable and casual. Good questions to start would be to upcoming vacations or even a favorite hobby. Although not work related, questions like that give you an opportunity to learn more about the person and find some common ground.
- Be Genuine and Actually Listen – Don’t fake enjoying a conversation. People can easily sniff out when someone is not being authentic. Make sure you listen to what the other person is saying to you. Don’t get caught up in what you want to say back that you’re not in the moment. Let the conversation flow naturally.
- Treat Everyone Like Your Friend – One of the best ways to get a natural conversation going is to think of everyone like you think of your friends. You wouldn’t interrupt them, only talk about yourself, or toss a business card and bounce, right?
- Follow Up – Block out some time the next day to write cards or emails to your new connections. Don’t just write canned responses, use something you remembered from the conversation you had. Showing you’re quick to follow up improves the likelihood of doing business together. Send a personalized LinkedIn request to your new connections!
Start building rapport and over time business can happen. It’s just a fact: people do business with people they know and trust. Even though you’re not completely comfortable networking, it gets easier each and every time. Stick with it and you’ll make great, long lasting connections! Happy Networking!
How do you successfully navigate networking events? Let us know by sharing your tips in a comment below.