Effective networking is essential when it comes to advancing your career. But when you’re socially anxious and hesitant to put yourself out there, the thought of meeting new people and initiating conversation can sound dreadful. Evidently, this can pose an issue when you’re trying to move up the corporate ladder.
Unfortunately, there isn’t exactly a workaround for professional networking and making connections. By building up your network, you’re essentially building a group of people who will be able to advocate for you in a professional setting.
Even if you’re not currently looking for a new job, networking can help you nurture future opportunities. Without further ado, here are six strategies for networking to help you make strong connections.
1. Get into a professional networking mindset.
If you’re nervous about meeting and connecting with new people, it can be beneficial to adjust your mindset. This can help you get out of your head and ease your nerves.
To get into a more positive mindset ready for professional networking, you should first work on building your confidence. Start by creating a list of everything you have achieved and any obstacles you have overcome. You can call this your “win list.”
To ensure the most effective networking, take a look at your win list every time you attend a networking event or even a social gathering. This will give you the boost of confidence you need to be brave and make connections.
2. Set yourself up for success.
Being prepared is a key part of meeting new people or attending a social event. This is especially true for anyone who is socially anxious or shy. Before attending your event or meeting up with someone, be sure to prepare by writing out some questions and conversation starters ahead of time.
As an example, you can write down three things to ask others to help you learn more about who they are and what they do. You’ll also want to write down three things about yourself that you can use when talking to other people.
Some examples of good conversational topics include holiday plans, the other person’s professional background, and even pets. It would help if you are also prepared when people direct your question right back at you, so be sure you have a story or response ready on any topic you are planning to talk about.
3. Effective networking is all about authenticity.
If you’re a naturally shy person, jumping right into social gatherings and trying to be super outgoing might not be the best strategy for you. Instead, try to take things slow and build up your stamina gradually.
As with many things in life, you’ll want to build your new relationships and make connections based on trust and credibility. You can’t be everything for everyone, nor should you try to.
One of the best networking strategies out there is to look for others in your industry so that you can have longer and more meaningful conversations with them. Because they are in your industry, you may find it easier to chat with them about something you are both knowledgeable about.
When it comes to networking for shy people, this may be a better strategy than trying to talk to dozens of different people. Instead, focus your energy on meaningful conversations that will achieve a greater outcome.
4. Have some fun.
Networking for shy people isn’t always easy, but it’s important to know that the process of professional networking doesn’t have to be all serious. Have some fun with it by turning the process into a game.
While you’re at a networking event, set some fun goals for yourself to try to take your mind off of anything that is making you nervous. As you go through the event, you’ll be focused on winning your game, which will make it more fun.
For example, you may want to set the goal of exchanging five business cards or chatting with three people at the event. Not only will this help you ease your nerves by adding some self-competition, but it will also be beneficial as you meet new people.
You can also have some fun by immersing yourself in your alter ego. While you may normally be shy, you can create an alter ego for yourself who is not as shy and loves to network. While you are at a networking event, become your alter ego and, most importantly, make the most of it!
5. Give yourself a pep talk.
Talking to yourself – both literally and figuratively – is a great networking strategy to help take some of the edges off. It can also help you overcome your shyness to some extent.
It may help to think of networking as a performance. The more you practice and rehearse, the better you’ll become at it. As they say, practice makes perfect. And with enough practice, the thought of networking won’t seem as intimidating to you. Soon, it will come naturally to you.
6. Take advantage of your strengths.
When it comes to networking, being shy can actually serve as an advantage. Instead of trying to be someone you’re not, try to leverage this strength.
Believe it or not, oftentimes, people are attracted to those who are shy because they tend to be more approachable than other loud and outgoing people. You should use this to your advantage. Approach others with a welcoming smile and a listening ear. By doing so, you’ll leave a lasting impression on many people at the event.
Become a Professional Networking Pro
Just because you are shy or socially anxious doesn’t mean you can’t become a professional networking pro. Our networking tips are a great way to start building your strategy.
At Infinity Consulting Solutions (ICS), we believe in the power of effective networking. If you’re looking for new networking strategies or ways to make stronger connections, check out our business and career blog for more tips. Contact us today if you’re ready to take the next step in your career journey.