As an introvert, hearing the words “networking event” literally makes me feel like this:
It’s similar to that overwhelming agony of hearing your teacher say, “let’s break up into groups” or “let’s go around the room and introduce ourselves”. It’s gross, wrong, and LAME. However, in the “real” world, networking is crucial because in most cases it’s more of who you know than what you know if you want to progress in your career or business. I am in NO way a pro at this and I’m trying every day to overcome my desire to skip all events and just stay home. Here are just a few of my tips for networking as in introvert.
1. INTENTION. WHY. Why are you sacrificing sacred alone time to be out in public? I’ve made the mistake of going to so many events that did not benefit me and I ended up drained and feeling weird by the end of it. It’s fine to want to get out of your shell but don’t force it. Find events that have a speaker, topic, or group that relates your personal brand, business, or career. FOMO isn’t all that deep, all you’re missing out on is exhaustion.
2. CHARGE YOUR BATTERY. And not the one on your phone so you can scroll Instagram in the corner…Charge your social battery, it empties quick and you’ll find yourself sneaking out the exit before you got to meet the person you came to see. Most events I’m going to are right after work so it’s harder to recharge when you’re running from one place to another. Working with customers all day is also the exact opposite of what I should be doing for a career so the fact I can handle any socialization after 8 hours of suffering is a miracle. (We love a socially depleted sister). In spite of all that I still manage to go! During my work day I keep myself excited about the event and on my way there I pump myself up with some music to maintain some good energy. Being nervous or still feeling semi out of place is normal and I can guarantee you aren’t the only one there that feels that way. Charge up and sparkle Queen.
3. BYOBFF. Don’t go alone if you aren’t ready to, that doesn’t make you a wimp, it makes you smart. I get really anxious about networking alone and I freak out when I have to, so bringing a friend helps me a lot. My friend Chelsea and I tend to go to a lot of events together, she is an amazing human and she always helps me step out of my comfort zone and meet more people within the blogging or Philly network. I’ve been able to join groups like PHL Bloggers and Ladies get Paid because I have awesome supportive friends that keep me going to these events. And if your circle is tight then use those groups to build new, meaningful friendships, or ask me, I’ll go! We can be nervous together 😉
4. Set a Goal. 45 networking events in a months is unrealistic, don’t lie to yourself. 2 to 3 a month is fine, once a week is fine, once a month is fine. Set a realistic goal for events and plan them out accordingly, you don’t have to go back to back and it’s okay to miss one or two. FOMO WILL NOT KILL YOU GET OVER IT. Along with determining the amount of events you want to go to, make an effort to meet someone new. I’m not bold enough yet to walk up to people but, usually little clusters of people form around and you just find your way into mingling. No one is going to shut you out or ignore you, it’s a safe space, everyone is here to meet new people, don’t be afraid of rejection most people are really nice and helpful.
5. Come Prepared. I don’t have business cards and I should, I’ll work on it. Don’t be like me, if you have the means to share your info, always come prepared. You never know who you’ll meet or who will need the service you offer. Never underestimate what you bring to the event! Have cards, a resume, a sample, whatever you need to sell yourself, have it handy and have enough for everyone.
Listen, I know it’s not easy to just throw yourself out there when you’re socially anxious, shy, etc. It takes a lot of effort for me to even RSVP to things! I plan my events and my week at the same time to make sure that I will have the energy to really enjoy it and be myself. Be mindful of what your limits are and protect your energy. You can do it if I can do it!