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Networking for Introverts: 9 Secrets of Success

Networking can be a daunting prospect for introverts, but with the right strategies, it doesn't have to be. We gathered insights from Freelance Business Coaches to Marketing Directors, providing their best advice for introverts in the networking arena. From spotlighting others instead of yourself to embracing “Fake It Till You Make It,” here are nine effective techniques to help introverts excel in networking.

  • Spotlight Others, Not Yourself

  • Prioritize Deeper Connections

  • Set Achievable Micro-Goals

  • Focus on Meaningful Interactions

  • Engage in Community Networks

  • Embrace Online Networking

  • Leverage One-on-One Conversations

  • Prepare to Alleviate Anxiety

  • Embrace “Fake It Till You Make It”

a group of people networking

Spotlight Others, Not Yourself

The absolute BEST strategy I've ever found to help put myself out there is to focus my attention on the other person, or on the information I'm sharing. So often, we shy away from networking or speaking because we don't want to put ourselves “in the spotlight.”

But I have found that if you think of yourself as the spotlight—shining a light on the other person, or the value you're sharing with them—this helps to put your ego aside and breaks you free from needing to impress. You can literally step out of your discomfort, as you detach yourself from it. This is so liberating.

Matt Saunders, Freelance Business Coach, Matt Saunders Coaching

Prioritize Deeper Connections

I focus on quality, not quantity. When I attend a networking event, I set a goal of connecting with five people. I first engage in simple conversation—how they learned about the event. I keep their interest by having them talk about themselves—their business, success stories, struggles, and personal life. 

Afterwards, I share my information, and we follow each other on a few social channels. Lastly, we exchange business cards. These connections are deeper, and since we engage in a longer conversation, the chances of those people remembering you are much higher. Also, they feel like they were seen and heard, not just “pitched” to—so there's trust built there!

Corey Brausch Hurley, Social Media Strategist, Seven Willows, LLC

Set Achievable Micro-Goals

When going to a networking event, I set a small, achievable goal for myself before I arrive. It could be as simple as "I will say hi to at least two people before I give up" or "I will stay there for at least 30 minutes without taking out my phone, even if I am not able to gather the courage to approach anyone." Setting and hitting these micro-goals has helped me gradually feel less terrified.

Deepti Chopra, Co-founder, Adaface

Focus on Meaningful Interactions

As an introvert, one approach that really helped me with networking is focusing on quality rather than quantity. I think this is solid advice for anyone trying to network, but it's especially useful for introverts.

Deciding to build just a few meaningful connections at a networking event is a lot more doable and often more rewarding than attempting to meet every single person there. Instead of putting pressure on yourself to “mingle” with everyone, concentrate on really enjoying the conversations you have with the few people you do interact with. 

Simply adopting this mindset of preferring quality over quantity can totally transform your experience of networking!

Patrick Beltran, Marketing Director, Ardoz Digital

Engage in Community Networks

As an introvert, I've discovered that connecting with people who share common affiliations, such as professional groups, alumni networks, and community organizations, provides a comfortable foundation for networking. 

Actively participating and even taking leadership roles within these communities, whether it's Toastmasters, mentoring programs, or faith-based groups, has significantly enhanced my networking capabilities. Rather than remaining a passive member, I recommend that introverts take the initiative, reach out, and cultivate meaningful connections within their community networks. 

This approach not only facilitates genuine interactions but also opens doors to valuable opportunities for professional and personal growth.

Jimmy Wong, Entrepreneur and Coach, AI Jimmy

Embrace Online Networking

As millennials enter the executive sector, I'm noticing more introverts in the mix. Call it a result of online culture, but they're less likely to pick up the phone or book an in-person meeting, even if that means losing out on a career connection.

This used to frustrate me as a recruiter, but I've actually embraced it as of late. That's because I've accepted that online communication is the way of the future; if anything, millennials are ahead of the game.

The techniques they've developed for networking are actually far more efficient than those used previously. Whereas I thought they were missing out, once I visited the online communities they frequent, I realized the opposite: they were able to link up with a dozen people while I was still dialing the phone.

Now, I advise introverted candidates to lean into it. Don't fight it, but instead, utilize the avenues your fellow introverts have created. You'll achieve more by accepting your nature than by revolting against it.

Leverage One-on-One Conversations

Embracing my introversion, I've honed in on one-on-one conversations. These deep dives create stronger connections than superficial mingling.

Here's a tip for fellow introverts: Leverage online platforms. Initiate dialogue in digital spaces where you're comfortable. Then, when you step into face-to-face settings, there's already a sense of familiarity and rapport.

And remember, listening is our superpower. People love feeling heard. Use that. It's not about the quantity of contacts; it's the quality that counts. Let your authenticity shine—one meaningful conversation at a time.

Casey Jones, Founder and Head of Marketing, CJ&CO

Prepare to Alleviate Anxiety

My main strategy as an introvert in networking is preparation. It's common for introverts to overthink, which can sometimes cause anxiety and stress before a networking event.

You might find yourself worried about things like how to start conversations, the best way to talk about your business, what to wear, or who else might be there. Instead of letting these worries get to you, actively preparing for them can help calm your nerves.

If you need conversation starters, there's a lot you can find on the internet, or you can even ask ChatGPT! Practicing your elevator pitch is another good preparation step. Writing about how to craft a great elevator pitch could be a separate blog post, but Indeed offers some excellent advice on creating an effective one.

Precious Abacan, Marketing Director, Softlist

Embrace “Fake It Till You Make It”

Navigating the worlds of technology, business, and entrepreneurship as an introvert comes with its unique set of hurdles. In these fields, being actively engaged in community building, public speaking, and attending events is often seen as crucial for success. As someone who identifies as an introvert, I've faced various emotional and personal challenges while trying to excel at networking.

One of the toughest obstacles I've encountered is summoning the energy needed to blend into different environments and assert myself amidst the expectations of social interactions. This struggle is amplified by gender dynamics, with women often feeling pressured to always be warm, approachable, and fully engaged, adding more strain to our already taxed introverted energies.

In grappling with these challenges, I've come to realize that many introverts, including myself, engage in mental preparation before social gatherings. We rehearse potential conversations and speeches in our minds as a way to cope and empower ourselves, drawing strength from our innate capacity for introspection.

My journey of self-reflection has led me to share my insights with others through writing. In my upcoming book, "Behind an Introverted Eye," rooted in analytical psychology, I seek to demystify introversion and shed light on the rich inner world of introverts. It's not just about explaining the differences between introversion and extroversion; it's also about fostering empathy among extroverts and providing practical guidance for interacting with introverts more effectively.

Throughout this personal journey, one mantra has guided me: "Fake it till you make it." This principle, while simple, holds a profound truth—outward confidence can shape perceptions and opportunities. By projecting confidence, even in moments of uncertainty, introverts can build trust and open doors to broader networking horizons.

From my own experiences, individuals like Emma Watson, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have served as inspirations. Their success shows that being introverted doesn't hinder networking or career advancement. It's about making the choice to push beyond your comfort zone and seize opportunities, rather than regretting missed chances later on.


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