Networking as an Introvert: strategies to overcome your fears

Networking as an Introvert: strategies to overcome your fears
Networking as an Introvert: strategies to overcome your fears

posted 18 Oct 23

Whether you’re actively looking for a new role or want to forge long-term relationships to maximise your career growth, networking is something we can all do to help grow connections, knowledge, and opportunities available to us. In today’s job market, networking has become an essential part of the job search journey, and it can also help you get ahead when it comes to creating new ideas and developing your knowledge. 

 

Are you nervous about networking? We get it! It’s not uncommon to be totally intimidated by the thought of speaking with and introducing yourself to strangers, introvert or not. However, with some know-how, your networking experience can become a lot less excruciating (and a little less sweaty!). We’ve curated a list of effective networking strategies to help grow your confidence as an introvert and arm you with the techniques to make that first introduction easier.

Leverage your strengths as an introvert

  • Active listening

While you may not be the loudest and most confident speaker in the room, you're likely a much better listener. Active listening helps ensure the other person feels heard and understood and will help you develop a relationship based on trust and openness. You’ll also be better placed to understand their motivations and pain points to add to the conversation with relevant and valuable information that will make you memorable. 

Top tip: Don’t be afraid to pause before you respond or to ask questions. 

  • Empathy

Believe it or not, empathy doesn’t come naturally to everybody. Fortunately, this is one strength introverts typically have and is crucial for building long-term relationships and deeper connections. Networking with empathy will help you bring value to the discussion and develop a mutually beneficial relationship. 

 

Effective networking strategies for Introverts

Change your perspective

A helpful tip for managing anxiety during networking is to approach it with the mindset that you have something to contribute. Networking is a two-way street, so focus on what you can bring to the table. If you view it as purely transactional and focus on what you want to gain, you will quickly have feelings of inauthenticity and self-doubt.    

Set achievable goals

Try not to be ambiguous or too ambitious. Set one or two achievable goals to ensure you network in a targeted way, with a clear vision of what you want to achieve. A goal could include speaking to a specific person or gaining knowledge on a particular product. You don’t have to shake every hand in the room or send multiple requests on LinkedIn to gain meaningful connections - remember, quality over quantity! 

 

Request the help of your peers

If you have a colleague or friend who regularly networks and has built confidence in this area, why not ask them to mentor you? You could shadow them at an event or during their working day to pick up on their tips and tricks - they may even introduce you to their connections. If none of your peers have yet come to mind, consider attending an event with a buddy who can help you break the ice with strangers or provide reassurance if your confidence slips. 

Start with a familiar setting

Don’t underestimate the power of networking within your organisation. Familiar faces and settings make networking less daunting and can be great practice before going out externally. If you are temping or in a contract role, networking in the workplace will allow you to chat with decision-makers and hear about opportunities and job openings ahead of other candidates.

Leverage online communities

Networking in the digital age allows us to form connections with anyone, anywhere in the world. Digital events, virtual communities, and social media are all great places to network online. You should also consider members of your LinkedIn network or mutual friends and build on existing connections. Learn how to leverage the power of online communities in our latest blog: How to master digital networking.

 

Consider conversation

While it’s important to remain present and not appear scripted, you can prepare a few questions and memorise your introduction to help steer conversations with confidence. An introduction could include your name, occupation, company, and reason for attending. You may also want to think about informal talking points, for example, a relevant talk or what you've found valuable at the event so far - this is a great way to lead into asking their opinion. 

Arrive at events early 

Punctuality is simple, but it will certainly set you off on the right foot. Entering an event when conversations have already started, and groups have formed can cause doubt for even the most seasoned networkers. Being one of the first to arrive gives you time to get comfortable with your surroundings, identify good places to talk, and strike up conversations with the organisers or other early arrivals at a less pressured pace.

Nurture relationships

Now that you’ve done the hard graft, it’s time to stay in touch. The follow-up is just as important as the introduction. Career columnist at The Wall Street Journal recommends getting to know someone for at least one year before making a significant request. Be prepared to continue the conversation to nurture the relationship and build trust over time. 

 

As an introvert, play to your strengths and forge strong bonds with a smaller group of people. One meaningful relationship can change your life or help you reach that end goal, so quality over quantity is the name of the game for introverts when networking. Lead with what value you can add, and remember, networking is a two-way street. Introverted, unconfident, shy, or simply new to networking, we are confident the above introvert networking techniques will help you in your future endeavours. 

 

Want to discover a good talking point for employers in your industry? Request a call from our specialist recruitment team for further insight and advice.