While it’s true that networking isn’t for everyone, anybody can become good at it. Extroverts are known to be extremely social and often become the center of attention whereas introverts and socially awkward people seek out smaller groups. Although different, extroverts are not necessarily better than introverts and socially awkward people can become amazing at networking. All it takes is a little practice. Here are some ways you can hone your skills as a networker whether you are an extrovert, introvert or shy!
Ease up on yourself
If you are socially shy, the first thing you’d do is put pressure on yourself to perform. Start by managing your expectations and stop pressuring yourself to meet a lot of people. In the end, one quality contact is better than 10 superficial conversations. When you go to a networking event, just start by talking to one or two people and allow yourself to mingle with other people. An easy mind leads to an easy evening of mingling.
Limit your time
Don’t commit yourself to staying for the entirety of the event. Instead, choose your time limit be it one hour or three. Take the pressure off spending an entire day with strangers and limit it so you can be your best for these hours. In most cases, just showing up can lead to a successful networking session. You never know who you will meet or how many contacts you will make with the right attitude.
Plan your conversation starters
If you have a hard time striking up conversations with strangers, a little homework goes a long way. Plan your ice breakers and conversation starters beforehand. Research about the event and find out who will attend and the kind of people you want to meet. Learn a few quick conversation starters that can help you get through to a stranger. These questions can include anything from food, travel, hobbies and current events. It is very important to be comfortable with what you say.
Ask for introductions
Whether you are a social butterfly or a shy person, an introduction is a great way to connect with new people. Get an organiser at the event to introduce you to other people. Not only is it great for networking, but this practice makes you look important and authoritative. If you are dealing with VIPs like guest speakers, ask the PR person nearby to introduce you to them and they will gladly get you in touch.
Sharpen your listening skills
A lot of people assume that networking is all about talking, which can be daunting if you are socially awkward or shy. If you are an introvert, you can use your listening skills to your advantage and actually connect with people one-on-one instead of having superficial conversations. When you ask a question, make sure you listen to them and show that you are genuinely interested. People who listen are always remembered.
Be interesting and get personal
The key to being memorable is to be interesting. One easy way to be interesting is to share personal stories. Notice and compliment people on their personal style, make a positive remark about their talks or just ask how their day is going.