Whether you’re happily employed or seriously seeking a new job, networking is smart policy. But what if you’re the type of person who’d rather be alone than “work a room”? Here are five super-helpful strategies from the pros.
Make a to-do list.
Purposeless networking is extra-daunting. Before heading to an event, jot down what you want to get out of it. Examples: gaining intel on a particular company, catching a specific speaker, or saying hello to former colleagues who will probably be in attendance.
Stay only 20 minutes. It’s perfectly fine to promise yourself that you’ll leave within a half hour, as long as you accomplish your goals. But don’t be a stickler. If you happen to be having a good time, stay longer.
Think quality, not quantity. Strive to make a few meaningful connections with people. You don’t have to shake every hand in the room.
Script your intro.
Get the basics down first, including what might bring you closer to your larger goal (inside info on new ventures in your field, say, or a personal introduction to a power player). Then put this into language that feels natural, not forced, coming out of your mouth. Practice in the mirror. Also, be prepared with a few specific questions. Once you get someone else talking, you can relax and listen.
Duck out now and then. If you’re at a big event, like a conference, resist the pressure to attend too many panels and parties. Taking much-needed breaks helps introverts recharge. Return to your hotel room, go for a walk, or find a quiet spot in the lobby where you can decompress. As you probably know, introverts draw energy from being alone, while extroverts draw it from being around others. Stepping away for a few minutes will help you come back stronger.