Being in a room with the CEO of a Fortune 500 company can be daunting for anyone, but for introverts, it’s a bit more complicated. Everyone always says how important it is to network, but no one has explained how to get through it…until now. For all of you introverts out there, here’s your survival guide for networking.
1. Get Your Story Straight
It can be hard to figure out what to share about yourself in the moment when networking beyond the expected, “Hi my name is…and I’m a…major at NYU.” Your best bet is to develop a small bio beforehand to express what you’re passionate about and a short story to talk about what made you interested in that subject. For example you could say, “I’m a business major at NYU, but I’ve been interested in exploring that within the fashion industry.” Then you could add in an anecdote of how you’ve been inspired ever since you designed costumes for a school play. It gives a little peek into your life and interests without too much talking, which can definitely be draining at times.
2. Turn the Tables
The best way to avoid having to talk much more about yourself beyond the initial introduction is to have questions for other people. Most people like to talk about themselves, so if you can ask a recruiter, for example, “What’s a typical day like working for HBO?” you’ll be able to hear someone else’s story, while being able to learn more about an industry you’re interested in or may have never considered.
3. Rehearse Your Outfit
If you’re wearing something that feels uncomfortable you’ll definitely be more anxious throughout a regular day of class, let alone at a networking event. Try out a few different outfits in the days or weeks before the event and wear them around to ensure that you find the one that makes you feel comfortable and confident. As the old saying goes, “When you look good, you feel good.” Any little boost of confidence can make a difference when networking as an introvert.
4. Do Your Research
In some cases you might be able to see exactly who will be coming to a networking event (thank you, Facebook invites). If not, you can at least gain some insight into what companies and organizations will be present. Do some online stalking if you know what companies will be there and see if you can find out who the usual recruiters are because those are most likely the people you’ll see at the event. If that line of searching is a dud, at least you can learn more about the companies themselves. Doing some research beforehand will make you a little less nervous because you’ll be able to recognize a few faces when you get to the event and you’ll have more of a game plan for who you want to talk to and what you want to ask them about.
5. Handcuff Yourself to an Extrovert
In the moments where you’re feeling a little more uneasy, it can be helpful to tag along with someone who you notice is more experienced at networking. This way you really don’t have to do as much talking because most of the attention will be on your “partner in crime” and you’ll be able to pick up on a few of their skills, while still getting to interact with professionals. Many times when you’re hanging around a group of people talking to a recruiter or other industry professional, even if you don’t say anything, you’ll still get handed a business card at the end of the conversation. Score! Just make sure you look as intrigued as the person you’re with so recruiters know that you’re listening and you’re interested.
Now go out there, network, and celebrate by getting some well-deserved alone time!