Introverts unite! Separately…in your own corners. If you’re an introvert but still want to grow your business through networking, this guide is a must read.
Recently, I attended my first ever business conference! In true Allison fashion, I didn’t just go to the conference…I also SPOKE at the conference. Being an introvert, this was a huge step outside of my comfort zone. Public speaking is NOT my thing and neither is networking…by myself, in a state I’ve never been to, at a conference with people I’ve never met.
Before I attended the conference, I started searching for “networking for introverts” and other search terms like that. The weirdest thing happened…there wasn’t much information out there! Isn’t that insane?
Now that I’ve survived my first conference and also my first keynote speech, I’m here to pass some of my favorite tips along to you. Whether you’re getting ready to attend your first after hours event alone, as an introvert or you’re flying across the country to attend a large conference…this guide is for you!
The Introvert’s Guide to Networking
Do some recon before you attend. One thing that I did before I attended the conference was research the other speakers. I followed them on social media, interacted with them and also was present in the group on Facebook for the conference attendees. When I arrived in Arkansas, I started by saying ‘hi’ to those that I had been interacting with on social media. I felt like I already knew them and they recognized my name!
Clear your calendar. I cleared my calendar the day before and after the conference. I wanted some time to prep and also decompress without the pressure of serving my clients on those days. Whether you are introverted or not, I recommend this if you are attending a conference that requires travel. I met a sweet couple at the conference that even booked the hotel for an additional night to discuss all that they had learned – genius!
Smile, be friendly. Crazy, I know?! If you walk into a room and stand in the corner texting, you aren’t likely to make any connections. You actually look pretty standoffish. Instead, walk into the room, look around, make eye contact and smile at others in the room. I did this at a VIP cocktail hour during the conference and a sweet blogger immediately said “Hi, My Name is __” and started asking me about myself. I found that by opening myself up and presenting myself as friendly -people came to me vs. me having to walk up to them!
Drink, or don’t. This is totally personal preference. Some people say that having a drink can loosen you open and make networking easier. For some, it makes them even more shy. You know how you tolerate alcohol, if you’re driving, etc. Make sure you have a plan before you walk into a networking event about drinking. You don’t want to be caught off guard by someone offering you a drink and you saying ‘yes’, only to realize you clam up after having a drink or two.
Less is more. This applies to your clothes, your approach and basically everything in the networking world. Don’t wear an outfit that you aren’t comfortable in or something that you’ll be pulling at throughout the event. If you’re hot natured like me, make sure you wear cooler clothes. Don’t try to talk to everyone at the event, instead make a few solid connections. Don’t try to attend every single session during a conference- instead, pick a few key ones.
Take care of yourself. The conference I attended was amazing and had something going on all weekend. Sadly, I ended up sick on Saturday. I knew that I could either push through it and end up really miserable Sunday (the day of my talk) or I could rest, take care of myself and dive in on Sunday morning. I chose to rest and take care of myself. Even though I missed the Saturday sessions, I was myself on Sunday and was able to focus on both my presentation as well as networking. While you may not end up sick right before your event, you still need to take care of yourself. Eat good food, rest and take a break when you need to.
I could go on and on with more tips about how to network when you’re an introvert. These are the most important ones though. Have you attended a networking event as an introvert? What’s your biggest tip for succeeding?