Originally posted 8/5/2020
I've always admired people who could turn to the person next to them and strike up a random conversation. I tried that a few times before and failed miserably. They'd either answer my question and redirect their energy to something else or continue a conversation with the person next to them. Why was networking so difficult for me?
As an introvert, I realized the importance of having a presence and making it known. Unfortunately, it was in my nature to stand in a corner and text my friends about how uncomfortable I felt or play a game of solitaire to distract myself from talking to others. Before long, I was a solitaire champion who made no personal connections at the networking parties. I can't tell you the amount of times I've circles industry parties with celebrities and entertainment folks, only to end up leaving early because I didn't know how to connect with people. My personal motto became, "I came, I saw, I left early."
Leaving early is cool and all, but at some point, you have to utilize your time appropriately. Networking is an art that I haven't mastered yet, but through my journey, I've picked up a few tips. I know with COVID on our hands, it'll be a little while before we head out to small gatherings. Before the time comes for you to put yourself in the room, check out some ways to maximize your opportunities.
Gravitate to another introvert
introverts can be very spiritual beings. In a crowded room, see who you gravitate to. If you see someone else in a corner on their phone, chances are they're having the same struggle you are.
3 business card minimum
So you don't waste your time at an event with great contacts, make it your personal rule not to leave an event without handing out at LEAST 3 business cards.
Accomplish the personal mission
If you're determined to get back home to your comfortable bed, make sure you absorbed what you came to receive! If it's a networking party, don't leave without connecting with who you came to connect with. If it's a panel don't leave until you hear the person you came to hear, speak. Whatever the reason for you stepping out, make sure it's fulfilled!
Put your phone down
Trust me, I get it. In situations like this, the cell phone is the oxygen tank. It's the heart beat. It's vital to your survival. Put it down. Sometimes our discomfort comes off as disinterest. For as long as you can bare it, put the phone down and people watch. Looking alert and present may encourage others to spark up a conversation with you.
Celebrate the small victories
Sometimes just attending a networking event is a huge step.