How to Network at Events if You’re Shy

How to Network at Events if You’re Shy

Networking is a necessity for any business regardless of what industry you are in and is also valuable asset to those looking for employment too. But what if the thought of talking to a room full or strangers fills you with dread? One of the biggest deterrents to effective networking is shyness and the lack of confidence to get out there and meet new people. At KennedyPearce we have come up with a few tips for the shy and introverted to help you get more from your networking events:

Firstly you need to realise that many people will feel the same as you, they will also be nervous and feel shy about the prospect of meeting a roomful of strangers. Take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.

Now in the comfort of your own home get the basics down. Practice in the mirror at introducing yourself, holding out your hand for a handshake and making eye contact. Think up some conversation starters and come up with a few anecdotes or personal stories about yourself that you’re ready to share. Practice saying these aloud. Rehearsing these words and gestures will prepare you for the real thing, you’ll have some ‘go to’ sentences so you’re not left feeling tongue tied.

Next practice asking questions too. Have a few up your sleeve and ready to go. If you can, find out ahead of time who will be attending the event, and identify a few key people you’re particularly keen to add to your network. Asking questions will not only relieve the pressure off of you, others will appreciate that you want to listen to them.

Bring a buddy or work colleague along with you to the networking event. Events can be much less stressful when you attend with someone you know. Bringing along a more open, extroverted buddy is a good idea, that way they can help introduce you to other people and help you talk to strangers. Be mindful not to let them dictate the conversation though, remember what you practiced from earlier and be sure to join the conversation too.

Arriving at a networking event early is also a good idea if you’re shy or introverted as there will be less people there at the beginning. Therefore it will be easier to engage in a conversation without being interrupted, and it’s also the time when everyone is looking for someone to speak with. Making one great connection early in the event can really boost your confidence, as well as help leverage meeting other new people throughout the course of the event.

Lastly don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Shy or not, networking events can be nerve wrecking and exhausting. Allow yourself a bathroom or fresh air break during the event to gather your thoughts. Start off with smaller events first and as you develop your networking skills push yourself further. The more you network, the easier it gets, but you have to keep doing it. Even during the course of every work day you can practice by getting up, walking around, and starting brief conversations with co-workers. Give it a go!

 

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