Face-to-Face Networking for the Introvert: Tips for Success

Photo by Donna Cymek

Since I’ve been writing about online networking this week, it seems fitting to end the week with a jump back to the personal: in-person networking! Be sure to read my earlier blog: Networking Obstacles and Shy Networkers as background information for these tips. These points are courtesy of Angela Marino, whose blog is Girl Meets Business (commentary is my own):

Suggestions to Help You Work a Room

Use the buddy system
It’s not a bad idea to bring a friend to a networking event, as long as you don’t rely on the friend too much. Personally, I like to go to these kind of events on my own. That way, I can come and go as I please and talk to people without anyone I know watching me!

Attend a sit down event
While this type of set up eliminates the problem of having to randomly approach people who are standing up, the downside is that you may be stuck at an undesirable table. Maybe the people aren’t interested in you, or you in them. It is a good exercise in small talk to sit next to someone for a meal. Think of it as good practice, and you may get lucky and meet a great contact.

Give People Something to Talk About: Wear Something Memorable (Hat tip: Kate @ Defending Pandora.)
It can’t hurt to wear a great pin or scarf or special tie. Be careful not to be the one everyone remembers for what you wear, though! Especially if it is a conservative group, be sure your choices are interesting enough to be noticed, but not outlandish.

Get a drink
If everyone else is eating and drinking, holding a glass may make you feel more a part of the evening and give you something to do in-between talking to people. Stopping at the bar also gives you an opportunity to talk to people.

Find someone alone
You know there are a lot of other people who hate to “work a room.” They are probably standing alone, with a drink in their hand, wishing the whole thing was over! Go up to them and say hello! You may find a kindred spirit and maybe a new networking friend.

Hang out by the food line
Everyone has something to say about food! “How’s the dip?…Don’t those cookies look delicious?” You get the idea!

Don’t dominate one person
Angela notes that “Introverts enjoy deep conversations, not small talk.” If you do have the opportunity to get involved in a conversation with someone, make sure that you are mindful of their body language to know when it is time to move on. Most people attend networking events to circulate and touch base with a lot of people, so be sure you don’t keep someone hostage talking to you!

Take breaks
Retire to the restroom or step outside of the room to recharge. Remember that the event will be over soon, and that, even if you consider yourself an introvert, you can still act extroverted. The more practice you have, the easier it will get.

Congratulate yourself on your accomplishments, and think about how you can work the room even better next time!

Keppie Careers will help you learn how to network, online and in-person and prepare you for your job hunt! Need a great resume? Help with a cover letter? www.keppiecareers.com


3 Responses to “Face-to-Face Networking for the Introvert: Tips for Success”

  1. 1 Patricia Weber April 28, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    You had me up to “you can still act extroverted.”

    This implies that there is something wrong with networking as an introvert. I must take the opposite thought – being an introvert in sales and sales management for 30 years.

    Face to face introverts can bring so much more to the network: we are naturally better listeners; we are naturally more interested in learning about others than talking about ourselves, tend to prepare in advance for even things like – networking. These are traits that many people crave: to be listened to, to be able to talk about ourselves, to be prepared.

    I do like your “take breaks” to recharge.

    Patricia Weber
    Sales Coach for Introverts, Shy and Reluctant to Sell

  2. 2 keppie April 28, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Patricia –
    Sorry that you interpreted this to suggest that there is something wrong with networking as an introvert. In fact, if you take a look at the earlier blog I linked to in this piece, Networking Obstacles and Shy Networkers, I mentioned some of your points regarding the advantages face-to-face introverts bring to the table –

    In summary, shy or introverted people ask for personal referrals, tend to be polite, are good listeners, bring a friend to networking events and leverage their on-line contacts – all great indicators of a successful networker!

    In suggesting that people “act extroverted,” I wanted to recognize that face-to-face introverts don’t typically love “working a room,” and may need to get charged up to have the most success. I’ll be more mindful of my language around this topic going forward.

    Thanks for your comment, and I welcome your insights in the future.


  3. 3 Patricia Weber May 1, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Miriam, thank you for your clarifying response.

    And I am going back to read your earlier blog; will look forward to hearing more!

    Patricia Weber

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