10 Top Networking Strategies for Introverts and Others Who’d Rather Not

“I’d rather be hung upside…than go to a big networking event where I don’t know anyone.” Yes, I actually said those cringe-worthy words in a public setting before I learned how to make networking fun. While that’s how I truly felt at the time, today, I am a confident networker. The tools and techniques in this article helped me get there. They can help you too; whether you’re introverted, shy, or simply hate big networking events.

After my cringe-worthy confession at a conference, people came up to me and whispered (to save themselves from the humiliation of others hearing) that they felt exactly the same. So, we formed a support group to tackle networking together…right side up, feet on the ground!

Here are 10 top strategies, five that we created together and five more that I’ve added over time:

1. Buddy System. Go to networking events with a partner or small group of fellow networking avoiders. Work the room together. After 10-15 minutes, go solo. Then, once you’ve made a contact or two solo, introduce your new contacts to your “buddies”—sort of a buddy pyramid scheme.

2. Business Card Quota. Give yourself a quota to collect a minimum of five business cards. Asking others’ for their cards is more important than giving out your own. It allows you to follow-up. (Just picking cards up off a table is cheating…yourself.) Once you meet your quota, you are free to leave, but you must use the cards to follow-up within 1-2 days.

3. Networking Event Tailgate. A very creative group member introduced this idea. Arrange to meet up with a friend or small group 15 minutes before event start time. Invite someone you can introduce into the circle. Before entering the big event, share tips and motivations, and buddy up.

4. Networking S.O.S. Create a code to use when a group member or buddy is having that “sinking feeling” and wants to escape the venue. Help them by inviting them into a conversation, introducing them to one of your new contacts, or just talking them out of the tree so they can re-engage and meet their quota.

5. Practice, Practice, Practice. Meeting as a group gave us a safe place to learn, test, and practice tools and techniques…and, by the way, network!

6. Wear Your Authority While You Build Your Confidence. Confidence builds with experience over time. Your authority is the knowledge that you are a competent and good person who deserves to be there as much as anyone else. Wear it like a superhero’s cloak and your confidence will follow.

7. Act as if. Using these tools and techniques, will help you act as if you already are a great networker. Remember, no one can read your mind. Unless you broadcast it, no one will know that you are as scared and anxious as they are! And, acting as if you are comfortable will put others at ease and attract them to you.

8. Network to Make New Friends. My son is a great natural networker…and an introvert. He networks to make new friends. He never enters a new conversation looking for what a person can potentially do for him. He gets to know people, and they naturally want to learn about how they can help and support each other.

9. Do what works best for YOU. When you have networking confidence, you’ll be free of “shoulds.” You’ll feel confident to choose which events you attend and how you network. There are many ways to network that build on skills that many introverts (and other networking haters) have. For example:

-Blog to share ideas and make connections.
-Ask friends to make one-to-one introductions.
-Make referrals and introductions within your own network.

10. Just do it!! Cloak up and put yourself out there.

You don’t have to be an extrovert or a natural to network effectively. Use these tools and techniques or others to build your confidence. Then, one day soon, you’ll be at a networking event and realize that you are networking with confidence and ease.

Comments are closed.