Networking for Introverts: 5 Tips to Help You Keep Your Sanity

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As bloggers, one of the things we're told again and again is how important networking is. Whether it's through mixers, lunches, or conferences, the advice to “get out there and promote your blog” is something each of us has probably heard at least once. And while networking is very easy for some people, it's really, really hard for people like me. You see, I'm an introvert.

Introversion isn't a bad thing; it's just a personality trait. If you're unfamiliar with the term, introverts tend to be quiet and reserved. We like alone time, and going to parties or interacting with large groups of people can be tiring for us. Introversion isn't the same thing as shyness; it's simply a preference for solitary activities.

While preferring time alone is great is when it's time to write a blog post, it's less good when you need to go out and meet people. As an introvert, I constantly struggle with being more outgoing in social situations. I've not got it perfected yet, but here are a few of the things that helped me out. If you're an introvert, I hope they're useful to you too, and, as always, please share your suggestions in the comments!

Reach out to people you want to meet or talk to before an event.

All the nervousness I feel introducing myself to people naturally is multiplied roughly a hundredfold when I'm at a networking event. It can be difficult for introverts to make conversation in “busy” spaces, so I've found that reaching out to people in advance helps make things easier. Your introduction doesn't have to be anything long or complicated; a quick e-mail or even a tweet will suffice. I think of it as meeting before meeting. That way, when you reach the networking space, you “know” at least one person already.

Prepare in advance for the event.

There are many different ways of preparing for an event, but this one is all about self-care. For me, event preparation means being more quiet than usual for a few days in advance of event, and also building in a “buffer” of alone time to decompress after the event. If you're an introvert, this kind of pre- and post-event planning is critical. You must make it a priority to recharge your batteries if you want to avoid burn out.

Set a reasonable goal for the event.

Another good word here would be an attainable goal. What “reasonable” for everyone varies, and even seemingly small successes are important. One possible goal could be to just stay at the event for an hour. Another goal could be to introduce yourself to three new people (or just one new person if three is too daunting). You can even set goals for after the event, such as contacting the people you introduced yourself to via e-mail. Setting a goal helps you focus on something other than your introversion, and gives you a reason to stretch beyond your comfort zone.

Bring a friend.

It's a funny thing, but I feel much less introverted when I'm attending an event with a friend. Just knowing someone there already can help you feel more relaxed, and that comes across in your body language and voice. Even better, bring an extroverted friend who's willing to play “networking wingman” for you and help make introductions on your behalf.

Appreciate your introversion.

Don't stress out about being an introvert or try to “fix” it. Introverts have lots of good qualities. We're great listeners. We're very observant. We're awesome at cultivating close relationships with people, and much more. Above all, remember that networking, just like anything else, gets better with practice. Once you start doing it, each event becomes easier and easier.

[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]

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27 Responses

  1. Jane

    This post is so me. I really struggle at events and often don’t know who I am supposed to talk to (ie pr people who invited me etc). It has gotten better as I know more local bloggers but still often seem to pop in and out as I am not comfortable at the events.

    Reply
  2. Tina

    Oh, thank you for this post. I am so happy, someone except me is also in this situations. And yes, I agree, with friend, or sis, everything goes better… ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thank you,
    tina

    Reply
  3. Nathalie F.

    I especially like that last paragraph. I’m an introvert, and I’m shy. It can be so difficult to go to parties (man does it take an effort to get out of my head!). So thanks for this little pick me up, just in time for this event I might go to tomorrow!

    Reply
  4. Lexi

    This is really helpful! I live in a small area that doesn’t have many opportunities for real-life networking, but I have a difficult time networking online too because I’m afraid of “bothering” people.

    I’m not shy at all, but I’m definitely an introvert. I just prefer to be alone, and do my own projects which is where blogging is both a blessing and a curse. I get hours to work by myself, building something entirely of my own creation… but I need to put myself out there in order for anyone to appreciate that creation.

    Reply
  5. Liveinamagazine

    One of the reasons I decided to start my own blog is because I love fashion but am a total introvert as well, I thought I would never have to speak or interact with people face to face, Boy I was wrong! Thanks for the advice, this really helps.

    Reply
  6. Nasreen

    I’m so happy this post is up! I think it’s super important to realize that while there are tons of bloggers out there, each blogger has a different personality. I’m quite introverted and I think these tips will definitely help me, especially, preparing myself mentally for the event and reaching out to people before; at least then you can be like “hey I emailed you” etc. Also I think people should really remember this point, “Introversion isnโ€™t the same thing as shyness; itโ€™s simply a preference for solitary activities.” I hate when people think I’m just some unsocial person who is shy.

    Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚
    http://lazyobsession.blogspot.com

    Reply
  7. Kylie

    If a PR doesn’t introduce themselves or start talking to you then they are terrible! I don’t think anybody likes going to an event where they don’t know anybody. I am quite chatty, but I do hate that. I think the more you go too, the more people you get to know and the easier it gets. I always see people I know at every event now. I think going to events is really important for a blogger.

    Reply
  8. Ashley Taylor

    I have a “video party” that I’ve been invited to and even that is stressing me out so bad that I feel physically ill! I don’t know what to do really.. It would be great to network but… AH!

    xo Ashley
    thetiniestfirecracker.com

    Reply
  9. Sandra Costa

    i like your tips so much, i’m an introvert and shy person, for me it is so difficult to meet people i’ve never seen before or make connections, and i know it’d be good if i could get over it.

    any tip?

    xO!
    โค Blog da Sandra Costa

    Reply
  10. Sheryl Blasnik

    Tonight I was invited to a fashion event in NYC. At the same time another fashion event was being live streamed. I naturally chose to stay home and watch the live stream. Technology is only making things worse for me and yet I love that I can live tweet a fashion event from my couch.

    Sheryl
    http://fashiondevelopmentgroup.com

    Reply
  11. Nadya Helena

    yes! I can definitely relate to all of the points here. I’m not shy in any word, but it’s just that I’m rather picky about people I relate to. Kind of a bad trait, I know, but it frustrates myself to hang out with people who share no common interest and no common connection with me.

    By the way, I think I have another suggestion that works for me. I usually try not to overthink about it. “Who am I gonna talk to?”, “What am I going to do there?”, “Will I look stupid?”, etc etc. Those thoughts come, A LOT, but I try to shove it away as they only burden me, and people can notice your insecurity. Hope this helps!

    Nadya
    eyeshadow illustrator
    http://thedillychic.com

    Reply
  12. Fabulous 30s

    I have a one year old blog and I know that I need to go to events and work on my networking skills, but it is hard. My friends are not interested in those kind of things (fashion events) so I do not want to drag them on something that they are not interested in and on the other hand going alone is tought. Majority of those people on those events already know eachother and they are usually talking to each other (which is normal) so I have a feeling if I go I will end up standing alone in some corner like a little wallflower (without perks ๐Ÿ™‚ ).

    Reply
  13. Tamisha

    GREAT article, Cora! And I love that you pointed out that introversion doesn’t = shyness. I kind of tire from seeing people equate these when writing articles around the web for or to introverts – they really are two different things. These are great tips, and kudos to you for knowing yourself so well! ๐Ÿ™‚ That will serve you well in your self-expression and need to connect in the blogosphere.

    Reply
  14. Barbara

    Events are hell over here if you either don’t know the organiser/PR directly and don’t go with a friend. There is always all the snobbishness and considering that I usually don’t like going out, that only makes me feel worse about going to an event.

    I will try out number 1 for the next event. That’s the only one I haven’t tried before.

    Barbara
    http://www.barbara1923.com

    Reply
  15. Petya

    Great post! This is so me… I actually found myself in the last paragraph. All of the ideas are amazing. Reaching out to people you want to meet or talk to before the event could remove the stress of meeting new people. It’s also a great way to prepare yourself in advance for the event. I mean, even if you spoke with just one person before the event, you will know what to expect from this person and it will be easier to make a conversation.
    http://peysoul.blogspot.com

    Reply
  16. Elaine C

    I’m suchhh a shy person when it comes to meeting new people! That’s why I always have a friend accompanying me to any sort of events because that way I feel less awkward! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  17. kittyferreira.co.uk

    Great Article!

    Introverts rock! We’re the ones who gets things done, we’re focused and disciplined naturally. It would be great for the world to realize our traits and that we could do with some help from the extroverts instead of being villified for it.

    Some of the greatest achievers are the most introverted. I mean how else is one expected to spend hour upon hour developing their talent?? We’re the leaders and creators; and without creation nothing happens. Without creativity there is no business.

    In the business world, we are slowly being seen as the most important spoke of the wheel.

    Introverts, unite and rock on!

    Reply
  18. Austen

    Such great advice! Recently went to a mixer for interns and didn’t know a soul there. Reaching out to someone ahead of time or bringing someone from work along with me would have made me much more relaxed, speaking even as an extrovert!

    Reply
  19. ayms219

    Fantastic post and so relatable. I really appreciate your tips on networking, as it is so important to my industry as well. I’m writing a blog post shortly about my experience “buddy networking” as an introvert and I’ll definitely link to you post for further tips! (quietgirlloudworld.com)

    Reply
  20. Laura

    This is such a great post! I am an introvert and I sometimes turn down networking opportunities just because they can be so daunting! I know that is a silly thing to do. These tips will really help me. I also tend to think that I am the only introvert in the room, but I now realize it is most likely not the case. Maybe introducing myself to other introverts first will give me enough confidence to talk to more people.

    Reply