Networking is one of the most important career activities for any working professional. Someone who’s been working for a while can easily testify the benefits of being well-connected in their industry - from creating opportunities to generating valuable business leads.
Unfortunately, placing a shy person in a room full of strangers can be overwhelming and intimidating.
For jobs in certain positions, such as marketing or sales & business development, networking remains an unavoidable aspect of the trade. If you dread or even loathe the idea of putting yourself out there, we’ve got a handy list of tips for you:
If you think you’re not good at talking off the cuff, you might want to prepare a list of things to say ahead of time.
This can include your self-introduction, your career, job scope, hobbies and even industry-related news and trends that can come in handy as conversation starters or talking points to add to ongoing conversations.
This ensures you’re making some valuable small talk that can potentially lead to more synergetic questions from your conversation partners. It is also a good practice for job interviews.
Shy networkers often feel like they have nothing to contribute to ongoing conversations, and sometimes struggle to come up with topics.
One trick is to listen in to what the other person is saying, and don’t be afraid to pick out the things they talk about. If you listen closely, you will be able to throw some questions back at them.
For example, if someone you met mentions their vacation, you can politely ask for more details, how they felt or what they did. By asking the right questions, you not only allow the conversation to continue, you also show that you are investing some interest in them.
Think less about yourself
A shy person typically feels more self-conscious about how they present themselves in front of others, as though they’re being scrutinised in every manner. But don’t forget that you are a valuable presence at such events, people are excited to come and meet you and hear what you bring to the table!
Focus on what you are good at and know best. The other networkers won’t necessarily know the things you know or understand things the way you do. Present your viewpoint and you might even help or impress them! Share your knowledge and expertise.
Stick to people with similar interests
Navigating around at networking events, you’re bound to come across various individuals with different personalities. It’s often the easiest to connect with individuals in your interest circle - people who do what you do or people who think just like you.
If you are really unconfident, you can be selective about who you choose to talk to, and when you meet someone with common interests, stick to them at first. Through these people, you will most likely be connected with more fellow networkers who share similar goals and interests.
If not, simply excuse yourself politely from the group and move on to join another group. In any case, you need to remember that everybody is there for the same reason - meeting new people.
Don’t forget to recharge
At any point, if you begin to feel overwhelmed by the amount of activity around you, don’t hesitate to call for a time out. Politely excuse yourself to visit the toilet or even to go get yourself another drink.