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How to network if you are shy or introverted

by Stephen Conmy

how to network if you are shy or introverted

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There is an old saying that goes – opportunity awaits you everywhere; you just have to look for it. However, for introverts, shy people and beginners, networking environments can be daunting. Here is a beginner’s guide on how to network, especially if you are an introvert or just shy by nature.

Cultivating a professional network online is a crucial component of building a network with a view to receive board opportunities.

So, what are the easiest and most effective ways to connect with decision-makers in any industry?

Below are a few essential top-level attributes of a successful networker. When you interact with a person in the flesh or online:

  • You should be curious, not needy.
  • Show you are genuinely interested.
  • Don’t try and sell anything; ask for their guidance and expertise.
  • Carry business cards and give them to the people you want to meet again.
  • Follow up a conversation with an email.
  • Follow up with another email.
  • Ask them a genuine question about their business sector.
  • Remember to prepare at least three good questions you can deploy in any given situation.
  • Don’t waste people’s time and just talk about the weather or your child’s hobbies.

How do I get out there and find networking events?

It’s never been easier to find networking events, thanks to the digital empire that is Google.

For example, if you are interested in networking at finance or banking events, just search for ‘banking conferences’.

If you are interested in FinTech, just search for ‘FinTech events’. Include the country or city where you want to search and Google will deliver.

Prepare a few strong questions to ask people. For example, ‘What’s the most challenging aspect of your sector right now?’

12 tips on how to network if you are shy or introverted

  • Many in-person events are free to attend, only chose the ones that are easy to attend (less stress), not too far away and very relevant to you.
  • If you have to pay a small fee to attend a really good event, do so. You know there will be no ‘tyre kickers’ at such gatherings.
  • Get the attendee list if possible. If not, find the hashtag on Twitter or the page on LinkedIn and see who else is engaging with it. Get a sense of who is going.
  • Make a deal with yourself. If you think three decent conversations with three different people is a good target, go with that.
  • Prepare a few good questions to ask people. For example, ‘What’s the most challenging aspect of your sector right now?’
  • Avoid discussing politics, the weather or anything culturally sensitive.
  • If you meet someone interesting, then follow up, ask them if you can call them a week later or drop them an email? Very few people will refuse such a request.
  • Link with interesting people on LinkedIn. Message them and say how much you enjoyed meeting them. Ask them to meet again for a coffee.
  • Rest assured that you are not the only one in the room with medium or poor networking skills. Park your fears and prepare to fist bump and say hello.
  • Suppose you meet a CEO or senior leader you should know how to get their attention. A good way is to ask them about their business and how they think about their sector.
  • Listen. Don’t dominate a conversation. You will often find yourself at an in-person event standing with two or three other people. Let them talk. Tell them you find what they say interesting. If the conversation is quite interesting, ask them to tell you more.
  • Be humble yet confident in your approach to people. Smile.

Remember. Be the person you would like to meet.

Watch Kingsley Aikins, the CEO of The Networking Institute. In this video he discusses why networking is now more important than ever, the art of good networking, the key characteristics of great networkers and why the best networkers are often introverts because they are skilled at listening.

A must-read book on making friends and how to network if you are shy or introverted

You have heard of it but may not have read it. ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ is undoubtedly one of the best books ever written on the art of networking and making connections especially for those who want to know how to network if you are shy or introverted.

The author, Dale Carnegie, offers practical advice and techniques in his exuberant and conversational style on how to jump out of a mental rut and make life more rewarding by connecting with good people.

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Diploma in Corporate Governance

Enhance your career as a director. Develop the practical knowledge, insight and global mindset to be a great board director.

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Networking
Networking Tips
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