It may help to scale down the challenge and make it your goal to leave with just one new professional contact.
Let’s face it: not everyone is cut out for chit-chat over canapés.
Still, networking is important--particularly in a small country like Luxembourg--for making new professional connections or keeping an eye out for that next career move.
Here are a few tips on how to successfully network as an introvert.
It’s less intimidating to walk into a space with a few people than it is to enter a crowded room. Sometimes event organisers will also be more available then than when the event is in full swing, so take the time to get acquainted with a few people you can meet up later.
Focus on one
Scale down the challenge: make it your goal to leave with just one new professional contact. Target those who are there solo, someone with an empty seat next to them or loners near the drink stand. Meeting just one person keeps the task simple, but you never know--you might end up with several business cards.
Play the game
Approach networking like a game, and if you don’t feel naturally confident in event settings, just fake it ‘til you make it (a smile and good posture are just two ways to make you look like a pro). Create some “game” rules, e.g., challenge yourself to pay three people a compliment, speak a foreign language, or ask one person five interesting questions. You’ll be so focused on your game, you’ll forget about the rest.
Consider a friend… or not
Bringing one friend to an event can be helpful in not feeling alone. But be aware that you don’t spend all your time focused on this one person, otherwise you may miss out on opportunities.
When in doubt, ask
People love talking about themselves, so questions are a nice way to engage others in conversation. Try to have a few go-to conversation starters so you won’t feel stuck.
Whether it’s lack of time or distaste for crowds that’s preventing you from face-to-face networking, connecting online can be another great way to make new professional contacts. Consider posting a link or article on LinkedIn, or making contacts through online professional groups or chambers, many of which also have a presence on Twitter or Facebook.