Networking for introverts

Photo by: André Luís under a Creative Commons license / Link to Flickr

Photo by: André Luís under a Creative Commons license

I don’t know how many times I’ve thought about going to an event and been filled with a sense of dread. Walking into a room full of strangers can be daunting. With a little pre-planning, the idea of chatting with people can be managed and even (gasp!) enjoyable.

According to Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, a third of people identify as introverted. These people need more time for reflection than perhaps the extroverts who gain energy from social gatherings.

So for all you introverts out there who need to develop relationships with strangers at parties, cocktail hours and luncheons, here are some survival tips.

Which events are crucial?

There can be serendipity at any gathering, but not if you resent being there. Decide which parties are important (now and in future) and go with gusto. Go to ones that excite you.

Remind yourself you’re there for your project

Your project motivates you. It’s easier to speak about that with passion and energy than speaking about yourself. Be very prepared to speak about your project. You can get more information from my online course and ebook –  How to Win Your Next Creative Pitch.

Re-frame your idea of success

Look for other kindred spirits – usually those hanging by the door, ready to go at any minute – and engage others who are in the same position. If you can really connect with one person at the event, you will have done well. Quality not quantity rules.

Set yourself a time limit or goal

Once you’ve been there for an hour, you can leave. Or an alternative is to set a goal of speaking with five people you don’t know. Give yourself a little push outside your comfort zone.

Have a graceful exit strategy

Saying you have another engagement to attend is always good – even if it really means you’re heading home to watch the latest Netflix downloads.

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If you’re looking for guidance with networking and pitching, you’ll find my online course and ebook, How to Win Your Next Creative Pitch, very helpful. It’s received five star reviews and has resulted in positive meetings for participants: “[It was] clear and helpful with lots of different examples to bring the recommendations to life. Great to have advice from someone with such wide-ranging experience and a lovely open style.”

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