A couple months ago after first moving to Austin, a friend reached out and told me about an exciting woman’s networking event happening in downtown Austin. I jumped at the chance to buy my ticket, and start planning all the cute outfits I was wanting to wear to this chicy event. But what I didn’t think of was how to actually network at a networking event. For all my fellow introverts out there, here are some tips and tricks for networking for introverts.
Networking aint easy, especially for those out there that don’t normally like to put themselves out there, like me. I learned this pretty fast when I thought my first networking event was going to be all sunshine and rainbows without taking into consideration how much of an introvert I was.
That beautiful Austin day, I went into the event and started walking around to the different vendors that were sponsoring the event, I grabbed a glass of wine, and parked my butt on one of the patio chairs that were sitting outside, with only one chair in front of me.
I sat there until my under-boobs started collecting enough sweat that I had to get up and waltz to the restroom for an AC break (TMI but lolllll the perks of living in Texas). I chilled in the bathroom sitting there thinking how I wish I could hide out there all night but still reap the benefits of gaining business relationships.
I made my way out of the bathroom and stood at a tall table looking around at all the other girls talking and wondering what the heck I was doing in a place like this.
Why did I come?
What was I going to achieve?
I was totally that quiet, weird girl hiding out in the corner by myself trying to distract myself from starring at the same Instagram feed I had refreshed about 50 times already. Shortly after that, a girl walked up to me and started a conversation.
Then we both walked closer in to the event and started talking with another group of girls.
I then sat down with a different group of girls during the seminar…
…and it really wasn’t that bad!
It actually was fun! But looking back, there was SO much I would have done differently. So from introvert to introvert, listen to these 5 tips.
1.Go in with a game plan
I should have known this was a dead giveaway from my presentation prep routines throughout college.
I dreaded every time I would have to get up and talk in front of the class, or even go around the room and introduce myself for the 100th time at the beginning of every semester. I would start prepping for these events weeks, if not months in advance. So why wouldn’t I do the same when it comes to having to pitch myself to multiple people throughout the night?
Make sure you are prepared by working on your personal pitch, having your business cards on hand, and compile a mental list of positive questions you can ask to keep the conversation flowing to keep your mind at ease.
2. Start networking online before you get to the event
If you are able to see who is going to the networking event you have committed to, I would do your research and stalk the heck out of those on social media and LinkedIn. Figure out what they do, what they are interested in during their spare time, and anything else that may work in your favor when trying to keep the conversation alive.
Along with that, try connecting with them and reaching out just to say you are going to the same event and would love to meet with them. Social media really can play in your favor when it comes to building relationships — take advantage of this amazing tool and get an in before even stepping foot into this event.
3. Eat before you go
Honestly, I didn’t even think this through before attending my first event. I ate a little granola bar but didn’t think about the 3-hour course and how I might get hungry throughout the night. Right, when I first got there, I got a glass of wine and about an hour later I started snacking on the chips and fruit they had laid out for the guests.
Not only was this hard to eat while trying to talk to professionals in your industry, but it also wasn’t filling on top of having a little too much fun drinking free wine.
4. Remember: you are all in the same situation
Sitting there at my first event, I was thinking about everyone around me that was hitting off conversations. I thought they had maybe come with friends and were staying in their group, but in reality, they most likely were just carrying on the conversation with those they were wanting to get to know.
Stop with that attitude and think, yah some may have come with their friends, but the majority of them are in the same situation as you — they just may not be as introverted. Put yourself out there and jump in a group that is already talking, or jumpstart a conversation with someone that may be just as uncomfortable as you.
Guess what? We are all human, and we all have been there before — get out of your shell and kill it like a boss babe.
5. Be approachable
Stand up straight.
Have a nice and genuine smile on your face.
Keep your head up and look around even when you just want to sit by yourself for a second.
Oh boy, did I do this wrong the first time around. Like I said, I sat in a chair that only had ONE chair right across from me, and then I stood at a table with my head down and glued to my phone. WHAT THE HECK WAS I DOING?
Not to mention, the number of times people have told me I have a horrible RBF (Resting Bitch Face), you would think I would know I was being unapproachable, but no. If it wasn’t for that brave girl that walking up to me and sparked a conversation, I don’t really know if I would have talked to anyone that night.
Put on your happy face, even if you are afraid of the smile lines, and make yourself approachable, even if you aren’t brave enough to walk up to someone you don’t know, they may just walk up to you.
Networking events are still terrifying for me, but now I know how to properly prepare myself just like how I would back in college to land that A. Know what works for you and put in the time to grow your business relationships and get out of your comfort zone. Trust me, this is more than rewarding when you are walking out of the event with a stack of business cards or LinkedIn boosts.
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