Something not many people know about me — I’m an introvert. Yes, I said it! I am much more energized from spending time alone. It does not mean I’m not social, however! I love people and attending social events, but when I get home from them I am drained. Completely. At times, the anxiety I get from knowing how exhausting it’s going to be has kept me from going to events. Surprisingly, many do not know this about me, because I appear extroverted in these events.
I approach these events with a smile and confidence. It’s taken me a while to build up to this and to be honest, I’m still practicing it. When it came time for me to attend three days of social events at Saint Pete’s Fashion Week I knew I needed to be at my best. With a few secrets to success that helped me get through all the socializing, I decided to share these seven tips on how to network as an introvert with you.
Okay, let’s get started!
If you know that networking events are going to be completely draining, then do everything you can to mentally prepare. Take time for yourself before the event in order to recharge and be at your best. For me, this means some alone time through listening to music or reading a book. Once I am rested, I am fully ready to take on some fun social events!
Next to being physically rested up, it always helps to mentally prepare myself too. This could include giving myself a little pep talk, but mostly includes coming with a list of conversation starters. It is so much easier to walk up to someone when you aren’t stuck on what to say. Here’s some I’ve found quite helpful:
Because I’m a fashion designer, I find it easiest for me to find an outfit in the room I admire and compliment it. This is the best icebreaker. What better way to start a conversation than by paying someone a compliment?!
“Hi, I’m Martine.” Although it takes the most confidence for me, if I say it with a smile, it works every time, especially when said to that loner in the room that looks a little overwhelmed too.
“This is such a beautiful venue. Have you been here before?”
“How did you hear about this event?”
“That (food/drink) looks good! What is it?”
I cannot tell you how much easier it is to go with someone to the event. Not only is it fun to share the same experiences with a friend, it can help take the pressure off and leave you feeling much less intimidated. My beautiful friend Alisha went with me to Saint Pete’s Fashion Week and I was so glad to have her by my side!
Each time I go somewhere I try to push myself out of my comfort zone a little more. By making a small goal such as, “I’m going to introduce myself to just one person,” or “pass out two business cards,” it will leave you feeling satisfied once you’ve completed it! The next time you go, make the goal of meeting two people or pass out three business cards and you will see it getting easier each time!
One of the best tips I’ve learned about networking comes from the book “How to Win Friends And Influence People.” I highly recommend this book if you are looking to grow your network of friends and become a better conversationalist. Dale Carnegie recommends listening and asking questions. Sounds simple right?! Keep the conversation focused on the other person by listening and asking questions and they will be sure to walk about thinking you are the best conversationalist ever!
I’ve come to realize that many people in the room are probably feeling just the way I am. They don’t know a lot of faces and they don’t really know what to expect from the event either, so why worry? Going up to someone isn’t so intimidating if you know they are probably feeling the same way. I can’t be the only introvert in the room, after all!
Of course, this is my go-to phrase, but I say it for a reason. A smile is incredibly disarming. It immediately puts others at ease and makes you appear more approachable. If you stand there with a smile on your face, you will be amazed at how many people are more inclined to walk up to you and begin a conversation.
As a Bonus I created the Goal Setting & Action Workbook to help you crush your goals