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9 networking tips for introverts

Sharon Florentine | March 12, 2015
Successful networking can be difficult for anyone, but it’s especially challenging if you’re introverted and shy by nature. Here, experts share networking tips that should make the process easier, if not completely painless.

"Be ready to talk about who you are, what you are trying to find, and what kind of help you are seeking. Make sure you know what your ultimate goal is for this particular networking event. For example, are you working to meet and build LinkedIn connections with five people in your industry? Or do you want to set up one potential one-on-one meeting to forge a stronger connection? Have questions ready -- write them out ahead of time," says Seidel. Feeling prepared and ready for any kind of interaction can take a lot of the worry and fear out of the networking process.

"Plan out and rehearse small talk, conversation starters, even questions you might be asked and your responses," says Borre. By practicing you remove some of the stress of coming up with a response on the spot. "By practicing you can figure out how to steer the conversation. You can even get a friend to help you go through possible scenarios and questions ahead of time," she says.

4. Focus on advice, not a specific job
Most professional networking is done in pursuit of a new job, and that fact can make networking awkward. Make sure you're taking the time to broaden the conversation beyond 'What job can you give me?' says Seidel. "The fact that you want a job is the elephant in the room, but asking about it can also be a conversation killer. No one wants to spend time with someone if they think the only thing you want is something they can't provide. Instead, maybe you can talk about a project that you worked on that allowed you to develop a specific skill or allowed you to travel or to learn a new language," he says.

Introverts can be great at one-on-one conversations, so take each networking opportunity to develop greater common ground with your connection, beyond looking for a job.

5. Find ways to demonstrate your passion and skills
Introverts don't often display passion in the ways an extrovert will, so it's important to find alternative ways to express what excites you professionally, as well as what you've accomplished. "Since introverts often excel at one-on-one communication, this can come in the form of telling stories about the kinds of things you have enjoyed in the past, for example," says Seidel.

"Try and steer the conversation toward talking about your work, what you've created, and your accomplishments rather than talking about yourself, and your passion and your love for the work you do will shine through," Borre says. Having a professional portfolio also can help give you some concrete examples to point to, and some instant talking points if you're feeling nervous.

 

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