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Have you heard about the simple one-question test to reveal if you are an introvert or extrovert? The question is: Do you recharge your personal battery by yourself or among a group of people? If the answer is by yourself, then you are introverted.
I identify as an introvert. Therefore, I utilize several tips to assist me in making networking events as successful and painless as possible.
Preparing for an event makes the event less stressful. First, you should know the exact agenda of the event and figure out where you want to be and when. Next, find out if a list of attendees is available before the event. If so, review the list and reach out to those you want to meet with at the event. Having a plan of who you want to see and making appointments ahead of time will make the event more productive and less intimidating.
With your schedule prepared, you will then need to prepare for your interactions. You may read industry articles regularly, but if you do not, I recommend you start reading them a few weeks before the event. Having exciting news to discuss during the networking event will be highly beneficial. In addition to industry news, you should spend time researching the people and companies you intend to meet at the event. Although you are probably not interviewing for a job, it is good to think of networking events as if you are. Research and exciting stories are the keys to meaningful networking.
Now that you have prepared your schedule and conversations, you need to prepare your mindset. I am fortunate to have a sound support system. However, I only partially depend on others for my mental networking preparation. To mentally prepare for networking events, I will often psych myself up. One of the methods I use is self-encouragement. Thinking positively about myself and also thinking positively about the event will assist in a positive outcome of the event.
When you arrive at the event, you must survey the room. When you walk into a room with many people, it is essential to step back and assess. Take notes on your phone or in a notepad of who you see that you want to interact with. An advanced plan with goals for who you want to speak to will help immensely.
After surveying the room, if there is no one you recognize you want to connect with, it is time to make those new connections. The easiest place to start is in the line for drinks or around the food.
Now it is time for the conversations to begin. I find networking very intriguing since the goal is to build relationships that should be mutually beneficial to all parties involved. It sounds simple, but it really can be challenging for an introvert. My main recommendation during conversations is to ask questions. Most people enjoy talking about themselves, and I do enjoy learning about others. The mindset of asking questions and actively listening assists me tremendously during networking events.
Additionally, when networking, I always exchange contact information at the beginning of the conversation. If you wait too long to exchange information, the other party may need to leave. Or there is also a chance that a new person can join the group, which would alter the conversation and your opportunity to ask your desired questions. If you get the other parties’ contact information in the beginning, you will be guaranteed to have the ability to follow up after the event.
Following a few conversations, I highly recommend you take a small break to the restroom. This small break will give you time to recharge your personal battery. Although this period should only last a few minutes, it should be enough to help you get through the balance of the event.
Once the event is over, then you should schedule alone time. Try to limit human interaction the day after the networking event. After you recharge, which usually takes me a day, start your follow-up.
There are several ways to follow up. One of my favorites is to go on LinkedIn and find the people I met at the event on my LinkedIn account. Then, I will typically send a note with the LinkedIn request referencing the recent meeting. In addition to Linked In, a mailed personalized letter or postcard is extremely meaningful. Since our world relies on technology, getting a handwritten note in the mail can bring many smiles.
My final suggestion is not to plan networking events back to back. Too many networking events for an introverted soul without time to recharge in between can be overwhelming. Remember that you are not in this alone. A good portion of the world is either introverted or has introverted tendencies. The introverted part of me will always be in existence. However, utilizing these tips, I can leave my introverted hat at the door.