Advertising
Advertising

10 Networking Tips That All Introverts Can Use

10 Networking Tips That All Introverts Can Use

I always felt so alone in a crowded room full of people who were networking. Everyone seemed to know someone and knew exactly what to say. At least, that was my perception. Conferences, networking events, or meetups can be an introvert’s worst nightmare — they certainly have been for me.

In these situations I always felt like I was walking into an extrovert’s paradise (maybe Weird Al can do a parody song). They are a place where extroverts can talk about themselves, then talk some more, and get energized. It’s a place that introverts like me would rather avoid — large crowds and loud people who love to hear themselves talk.

However, I knew I needed to take these opportunities to build better relationships. I discovered there are ways to use our introverted awesomeness to keep people interested and meet important people. Here are 10 networking tips all introverts can use.

Advertising

1. Prepare for Networking

Do some basic research ahead of time. Get to know some of the important people who are going to be at this event. The more you know about who are you going to be interacting with, the more comfortable you will feel interacting with them. Also, get to know the types of people you expect to attend this event. Maybe there are others you know who are also planning on going and you can pick their brains.

2. Manage Expectations

In other words, define what you want to get out of networking. It’s a lot easier when we have measurable expectations rather than a broad definition of networking. Set realistic goals for yourself. For instance, plan on talking to just one important person and exchange contact info. That’s a lot easier (and perhaps more realistic) than walking into a room and blindly networking! Define what networking means for you.

3. Acknowledge Your Fears

As introverts, we may feel uncomfortable in these situations. That’s okay. Acknowledge you feel this way and accept that it’s part of who you are. Don’t beat yourself up about it. We perform at our best when we are fully aware of ourselves and can then take the appropriate action. As the event gets closer, understand that it’s only natural to feel this way. The more we acknowledge fear for what it it, the less power it has over us.

Advertising

4. Listen and Empathize

This is where introverts can really boost their networking abilities. In general, people love to talk about themselves and love it when other people are interested in what they are saying. As introverts, we are usually pretty engaged and interested in others. Use this to your advantage by relating to what other people have to say in a genuine, honest way. Be fully present in the conversation.

5. Ask Good Questions

Ask questions that open up the conversation rather than shut it down. Ask open-ended questions instead of yes/no questions. Let’s look at the same question asked two different ways: “What surprised you most about your career path?” and “Are you surprised with the career path you chose?” The first example opens up the conversation so someone can talk about their career. But in the second example, someone can just say yes or no and then the conversation can become awkward. We don’t want to feel any more awkward than we already do!

6. Tell Your Story

We all have a unique story to tell. Try to incorporate your story into important conversations. As introverts, use this to your advantage. We don’t have to boast about ourselves, but instead tell a compelling story related to the topic of interest. People love to hear stories and you can keep people interested in you by relating topics of conversation to your personal story. Before networking, think of some stories you can incorporate into conversation.

Advertising

7. Keep Things Positive

There have been times when I wanted to be out of a situation so bad that I rationalized how I felt by blaming something or someone else. Something like, “I don’t really need to talk to anyone anyway. They just talk about pointless stuff.” Or, “This event is boring, don’t you think?” While you may feel this way, it’s best to keep it to yourself and not to incorporate into the conversation. Important people don’t want to hear it. Keep conversations and your attitude positive.

8. Practice, Practice, Practice

Practice these techniques with people you know and trust first. The lower the stakes, the lower the risk. Find a co-worker and let them you know you’re trying to improve your networking abilities. People want to help out, and often they are struggling with some of the same fears you are. Ask a good friend to help out or challenge yourself to speak up at a meeting. There are many ways to practice networking before it really matters.

9. Celebrate Small Victories

If you improved even a little, celebrate it. Great conversation and networking is a skill and takes time to learn. As introverts, we need to remind ourselves of the little stuff. Maybe you talked to one more person than you normally would. Maybe you simply attended a networking event! Maybe you were able to manage your expectations for the first time. Over time, many small victories add up to huge wins. Give yourself credit.

Advertising

10. Follow Up

After any networking opportunity, ask yourself what you learned and how you can improve for next time. Take a look back and analyze what worked and what didn’t. Even if you believe it tanked, remind yourself that it probably wasn’t as bad as you believe it to be. This was just one opportunity. There will be many more. Take the time out to reflect upon your experience in order to improve it for next time.

Often, our worst nightmares about uncomfortable situations are just that — our thoughts can take over and the worst possible outcome will most likely not occur. There are many subtle ways that we can use our introverted personalities to get ahead in our careers, relationships, and lives. Utilize these tips as a reminder that we don’t have to be something we’re not. Go get ’em!

More by this author

15 Signs You’re An Over-Thinker Even If You Don’t Feel You Are 5 Counterintuitive Reasons to Love Your Coffee Even More When You Have Found The Right Woman, These 10 Things Will Happen 20 Things To Remember If You Love An Introvert 10 Things Beta Men Do That Make Them Truly Great Guys

Trending in Work

1 How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples) 2 Personal Branding Basics You Need to Know for Career Success 3 How To Work Remotely And Stay Productive 4 How to Set Ambitious Career Goals (With Examples) 5 15 Ways to Set Professional Goals (Examples Included)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

  • Intro to Visual Facilitation
    • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
  • Structure
    • Why, What, How to, What If
  • Do It Myself?
    • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
  • Specialize Offering?
    • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

What Is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

    Image Credit: English Central

    Advertising

    By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

    3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

    The three steps are:

    1. Set a central topic
    2. Add branches of related ideas
    3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

    Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

    Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

    Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

    Word it in a clear and concise manner.

      What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

        Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

        Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

        Advertising

          You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

          In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

          Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

          Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

          Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

            I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

            In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

            Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

            You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

            Advertising

            • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
            • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
            • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

            Branch by Branch

            Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

              Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                  Level by Level

                  In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                    Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

                    Advertising

                      Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                        Free-Flow

                        Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                          I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                          What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                          Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                          The Bottom Line

                          When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                          If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                          More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                          Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                          Reference

                          Read Next