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8 Tips For Introverts To Overcome Networking Dread

8 Tips For Introverts To Overcome Networking Dread

Being able to network is one of the most important skills you can have in today’s business world. Of course, not everyone has the outgoing personality that makes networking second nature. Introverts in particular might have a tough time when faced with a crowd of unknown people, as they tend to keep to themselves and despise small talk. However, there are many ways introverts can use their personality to their advantage which may not seem obvious at first, but will ultimately lead to successful networking sessions.

1. Practice and Rehearse

The most introverted among us have to practice even the most simple interactions. I know that even when I make a phone call to a pizza place I have to repeat my order aloud a few times before actually dialling the number. Before a networking session, it’s important for introverts to know exactly how they’re going to present themselves, and what they’re going to say. Of course, you don’t want to sound robotic, but you don’t want to get caught making awkward pauses and using too many “um’s” and “uh’s.”

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2. Do your research

Along with practicing what you’re going to say, introverts should also research the people they’ll be meeting. I don’t mean you should stalk them out on Facebook or anything, but having specific talking points for each individual you meet will certainly put you at an advantage. Instead of going into a networking session blind, know what position people hold, any awards they’ve won, or anything else you can find out about them through the company’s webpage. Again, you’ll avoid awkward pauses and dead spots in conversation, and you’ll impress the company with how much you already know about them.

3. Keep conversations short and simple

You also don’t want to let conversations go too long. Introduce yourself, discuss the important talking points you’ve planned in advance, and move on to another introduction. Don’t let the conversation get stale, as you don’t want to end up panicking when you run out of things to talk about. Again, don’t be robotic, but don’t make it obvious that you painstakingly planned out every word that comes out of your mouth. You don’t want to appear phony, either.

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4. Focus on your strengths

As an introvert, you most likely have a ton of strengths that you never gloat about. Now isn’t the time to hide your skills and abilities. Do your best to bring up past accomplishments and future goals, showing everyone that you have the ambition and drive that would make you an asset to the company.

5. Bring a colleague

It might help if you bring a work friend along, as well. Maybe they know some of the people that will be there, giving you an “in” with them. Maybe you might know someone they don’t, and it’ll look good for you if you’re able to connect others as well. At the very least, it can’t hurt to have someone to talk to during dead times — that way, you won’t look like you’re completely alone and unapproachable.

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6. Draw others to you

As I just mentioned, you want to be approachable. Don’t stand off in the corner waiting for others to come to you, and definitely do your best to not look bored or nervous. Your body language says a lot about who you are as a person. Make eye contact with everyone you come across, and make sure to smile and nod throughout the networking session. As an introvert, it’s definitely hard to invite people into your world, but it’s absolutely necessary when trying to further your career.

7. Listen carefully

Listening is an introvert’s strong suit, so put it to good use. Take stock of everything that’s said to you throughout the session, and take note of who said what. Notice the little things, such as if a person discusses his interest in a certain sports team or music genre. Showing that you pay attention to details will go a long way.

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8. Form close relationships

Since you’ve listened closely to everything everyone has said, you can follow up at a later time with those you feel you have common bonds with. Again, this is another strength of the common introvert. Although it’s difficult to put yourself out there, it’s much easier to make close connections with those who share your interests and viewpoints. Seek these people out in the days following a networking session, and make sure they know just how much you appreciated their company.

Featured photo credit: Social Networking: Ninjacam / Dave Fayram via farm3.staticflickr.com

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Matt Duczeminski

A passionate writer who shares lifestlye tips on Lifehack

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Last Updated on February 11, 2021

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

Perceptual Barrier

The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

Attitudinal Barrier

Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

Language Barrier

This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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Emotional Barrier

Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

Cultural Barrier

Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

Gender Barrier

Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

Reference

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