It can be easy to hide behind the “I’m and introvert” excuse when it comes to networking. But that doesn’t help you develop your skills or your business. While it may feel uncomfortable to mix and mingle at social and business meetings, there are steps each of us can take to make networking feel less risky. A good article I read gives six networking secrets:
1. Introduce Yourself – Make the first move. Say hello and initiate conversation. Chances are there are other shy people there, and you just may be helping one of them get engaged.
2. Choose an Easy Title – No matter what title is on your business card, start out telling people what you really do. Instead of “Vice Coordinator in Charge of Client Experience,” it’s probably easier to introduce yourself as being in “customer service.” And more people can recognize your job or position.
3. Listen and Repeat – Repeating the concept of a conversation, not verbatim, helps to keep you in the moment.
4. Stay Off Your Phone – While this should be obvious, it is one of the biggest problems for introverted networkers. Instead of hiding in the corner, they hide in their phone – searching, digging, checking the weather. Anything to avoid meeting someone!
5. Don’t Fear Silence – Lulls in conversation happen, not a big deal. If the lull turns into ackward silence, jump in and save the day with a comment germaine to the event or your industry. If the conversation is really over, say how glad you are to have met and move on.
6. Show Up – It is more than half the battle! Like many other things, improving your networking skills takes practice.
Need more help? Check out my Building a Stronger Professional Network course.