Introverts, or those who get their energy by spending time alone, have always gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to expectations in the workplace.
For many of us, networking can be very challenging. So how do we infiltrate this business practice designed by and for extroverts? By forcing myself to attend several events and watching way too many TED Talks on the matter, I’ve picked up some tips to help other introverts expand their networks without completely burning out.
1. Set clear goals
Think to yourself: what is my reason for going? What do I want to achieve?
Make quantifiable goals to keep you motivated. Some examples are: don’t just talk to one person the whole time because it’s more “comfortable,” collect at least five business cards. That way, you’ll have tangible proof of your achievement. Use that to motivate you. Do whatever it is you need to do to get yourself out the door.
2. You don’t have to figure it out on your own
Sometimes you just need to look to an expert for help. There’s an influencer who makes marketing content specifically for introverts! I stumbled upon her Instagram one day and have been using her tips every day.
Monica (@unsociallyinclined), claims to “help introverts make a full-time income without the pressure to act extroverted.” She talks about overcoming imposter syndrome, standing out, and finding your voice in the professional world. This is just one person that I’ve found, but I’m sure there are many more introverted influencers out there with great advice!
3. Bring a buddy
There’s no shame in calling in reinforcements. If it’s an event where you can bring along some moral support -- do it! Find an outgoing friend to be your wingman. With them by your side, you won’t have to approach conversations alone and in desperate times, they can even break the ice for you. Having someone there to hype you up can make the difference between showing up to this event for 10 minutes and rocking the room for as long as you can.
There’s a common misconception that introverts are at a disadvantage when it comes to professional networking. But just because we handle the experience differently, doesn’t mean we do it “wrong.” There’s more than one way to network.Elysse Vernon
4. Take a break
At some point, you’re going to need to recharge. Take 10-15 minutes to sneak outside or find somewhere you can hide out to be alone. Once you’ve mentally reset, get back out there and power through.
5. Utilize your strengths
Think about the conversation skills you have other than talking. For example, introverts tend to be better listeners; you may be able to remember small details of a conversation that your extroverted counterparts might not catch.
When listening, introverts are also more likely to really process the information and think before they speak, making for a more impactful conversation. Along with those, they make excellent observers. Take a minute to survey the room, take in any sights that stick out to you like some unique socks that someone is wearing or a distinct mannerism they use when they talk. You may be able to work that into a conversation and stick out in that person’s mind.
There’s a common misconception that introverts are at a disadvantage when it comes to professional networking. But just because we handle the experience differently, doesn’t mean we do it “wrong.” There’s more than one way to network.
Fear not fellow introverts, it’s not that we can’t network, it’s just that it might take a little more practice for us to execute it our way. With these tips, we can strike the right balance between advancing in the workplace and staying true to ourselves. And if you need a bit more help when it comes to networking and answering your most pressing career questions, sign up to learn more about how a professional semester in Washington, D.C. can help.
About the AuthorMore Content by Elysse Vernon