For introverts, face-to-face networking is anxiety-inducing at best. The need to feel outgoing is overwhelming. Stress is triggered, the heart races, and palms sweat. Being introverted isn’t a personality flaw, it just means that you have to be creative about how you tackle the same issues that seem to come so easily to your extroverted counterparts. Don’t let your panic stand in the way of important networking opportunities. Here are four tips that can reduce your anxiety and get you the benefits of connecting to others in your community.
1. Take a Friend.
If you’re uncomfortable meeting new people by yourself, you can mitigate this by bringing along a trusted friend. This gives you a chance to interact with someone without feeling pressure or anxiety. They can also help you introduce yourself to new contacts and be a confidant while you’re figuring out your next move. If you bring a friend who wants to help you out, they will do everything they can to help make you successful.
2. Practice where you’re comfortable.
Networking doesn’t have to take place at a crowded industry event. You can meet people, who may be great connections for the future, pretty much anywhere. Choose a space that you’re already comfortable with, such as a local coffee shop or the grocery store. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you in line. This can help you get more comfortable with the experience so you can translate it to other events. You also have nothing to lose in these situations. Your career isn’t on the line, and you’re just trying to be friendly to someone in a public location.
3. Have a plan.
You also don’t have to go into a networking event completely cold. Setting goals for yourself and having a plan to execute can help you be better prepared for meeting new people. For example, set a goal of collecting five new business cards. Determine the best way to do that by figuring out who you can approach and how. Create that plan prior to the event. Also, if your plan doesn’t go exactly as you laid out, stay calm and make some minor adjustments. Don’t just give up!
4. Don’t expect to be an expert.
Finally, don’t expect once you accomplish some of these practice goals that you’ll be completely comfortable or expert at networking overnight. It is okay to feel apprehensive and awkward. In fact, most people in these situations feel some nerves, regardless of how well they mask it when they’re meeting you.
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