Working up the courage to go for IRL networking sessions? Don’t freak out just yet, we’ve got tips to help play up your strengths and reduce your anxiety.
Let’s just start by saying there’s so much value in having a fantastic network when you’re in the corporate world or running your own business. My network helps me with motivation, personal drive and mental health. I use it to bounce off new ideas, workshop current ideas and troubleshoot problems at work and at home. Finding a solid support crew has definitely been one of the secrets to my professional success and, more importantly, my daily happiness. So how do you find this tribe of cheerleaders and business besties… especially when you’re an introvert?
How to network with people: Tips from a pro
1. Start small
Give yourself a mini challenge like attending one new event a month – it’s a great way to take little steps. Maybe it’s attending a networking session or any fun event where you can meet strangers that have similar interests. But, remember to set a goal and celebrate the small steps. Action is everything!
2. Lay the groundwork
Prepare some questions you might like to ask someone at the event you’re attending. For example, “Have you attended this event before?”, “Do you work in this industry?”, “What’s your day job?” or “What’s your favourite thing about what you do?” Having a couple of questions on hand before you head off to the networking event will help make reaching out easier. Also, have a think about how you want to introduce yourself. Practising a short “elevator pitch” will help refine your story and make connections that much easier.
3. Bring a buddy
You don’t have to do events alone. Bring a friend and perhaps split up or head in different directions around the room. Later on, you can meet in the middle to check in on each other. You might be surprised at how much fun you’ll have!
4. Find your group of (digital) friends
One of the best ways to network is to join an online community like Launchpad (and yes, I may be biased since I founded it). These groups are designed to help make networking fun, easy and transformational. Because they’re digital first, meaning they have more digital meetups than IRL, you can network without the hassle of leaving the couch. They also provide conversation starter topics or masterclasses for their digital events – so you have something to talk about as a starting point. Great for people who are time-poor, lazy or introverted!
5. Don’t drain your battery all at once
Let’s face it: networking will be taxing on your energy levels especially when you’re introverted – so allow for time to recharge. Plan a quieter day the next day, and know that whilst it’s high energy, it isn’t difficult to do. You just need to be mentally and physically ready for the challenge.
6. Believe in yourself
Don’t let being an introvert get in the way of building a powerful community for yourself. In fact, being introverted actually means you’ll be a better listener and more considerate with your input into conversations and the community. So don’t let the feeling of discomfort stop you from stepping into your power. Everyone who has a strong network of friends, peers or business colleagues will confirm that having people in your corner – who you can ask questions, lean on, and bounce ideas off – is absolutely worth it.
So, are you ready to step out of your comfort zone and network like a pro?