Networking tips for people that hate networking!

 

Are you in introvert who dreads the thought of having to attend networking events but know you must for your career? Here are my top tips for making the most of networking activities.  

Added on 19 February 2016 by Angela Jowitt

Networking

First things first

  • Don’t call it networking!  Reframe it – an investment?  Advancing my career?  What feels more comfortable?
  • See it as ‘gathering data’ if this is more comfortable for you
  • Plan regular small networking activities, go and see someone in the department you were going to email.  Suggest meeting for a coffee
  • If attending a network event, tell yourself you can leave whenever you want
  • Have a clear and manageable goal of what you want to get out of the event or meeting.  Don’t leave until you have achieved it
  • If lack of networking is becoming career limiting, remind yourself of that every time you don’t want to go somewhere
  • Network on your terms, small groups, 1:1’s, host an event or invite people to ‘your turf’, keep them short and sweet
  • To begin with go with an extrovert

Before the event

  • Do your homework about the event or people attending.  Look people up on LinkedIn so you recognize faces
  • Rehearse some things to ask of others, think of good open questions; ‘tell me about what you do’ ‘what is your view on…’  Extroverts will love you for that!
  • Smile!  
  • Make eye contact when speaking
  • Be prepared to tell people something about yourself.  If necessary rehearse
  • If going to an event be one of the first to arrive – it is easier to deal with a room that is gradually filling up rather than be hit with a huge crowd already in the swing of things
  • Plan ahead, if you are travelling to an event know where you are going, where to park etc., don’t arrive flustered
  • Travel light, juggling coats, briefcase, cup etc., make you feel awkward

During the event

  • Don’t hide behind your phone. Turn it off and put it in your pocket
  • Scan the room, seek out fellow introverts. They will probably be lining the edges of the room
  • Coffee/food/bar queues are great places to start talking – there is usually a line which can be easier
  • Use your introversion skills to observe people discreetly
  • Remember you probably have or know something of interest and value to others. How will they benefit from talking to you?
  • If you are the kind of introvert who has learned to talk lots about safe subjects (i.e. work) just be mindful of the body language of others. Are they still interested and listening, or have they started to go off the boil?  If so, stop. Time to ask them a question
  • Build in some breaks where you can go and introvert for a while 
  • Once you have spoken to someone for a while, time to move on. Don’t leave it until the conversation has dried up.  Rehearse an exit speech. ‘I’m really enjoying talking to you but I must be disciplined and talk to a few more people, could I have your card?’

After the event

  • Plan a really nice reward, or ensure you haven’t committed to go to a huge family party right after. If you can, build in some quiet time
  • Don’t over analyze the event. Take a leaf out of the extrovert’s book. Whatever happened has happened, once it is done it is done. It doesn’t matter, let it go
  • If the event was all your worst nightmares rolled into one, don’t vow you will never do it again. In fact make sure you do another one as soon as possible
  • Find events that you don’t mind attending regularly
  • Send an email to the people you met as a follow up 

Good read

“Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.


Angela Jowitt is Program Director of our Management Development Program, which focuses on the specific areas where managers need practical support.