Networking for Introverts - How to Make Connection in a Crowded Room of Strangers
by Sandra Zimmer
People who are introverts or highly sensitive have special abilities that are valuable in networking events, group meetings and social settings. However, they often try to imitate the networking styles of extroverts instead of developing methods more suitable to their own sensibilities. Introverts feel they should be aggressive and reach out to others when that goes against their natural ability to receive others. This often causes their sensitivity to work to their detriment. They end up feeling inadequate and squashed in the networking process.
Often, the hardest part of networking for introverts is simply making connection with other people. The only reason it seems hard for introverts to connect is that they don’t value and acknowledge the receptive style that feels safe for them. Introverts do not realize that their way of connecting is to take in the energy of others. Introverts are magnets. Introverts naturally receive others; naturally take in the energy of others. Once introverts learn that it is OK to connect in a way that feels safe for them, they become powerful people magnets.
What introverts and highly sensitive people do best is connect by “receiving others.” Here are some core concepts for making connection that you can use if you are introverted in nature.
Pre-event Preparation - Ground yourself first. Identify your intention to support other people, to learn something from them. Then internally state your intention before you go to the event.
Entering into the Space – Establishing your Presence. Enter into the atmosphere of the room. Stand near the door and pay attention to the atmosphere. Connect with the atmosphere in the room first. Relax into the atmosphere before you try to connect with anyone. Take a few breaths and check your inner climate to see how you are internally. Bring your whole body into the room.
1. Receive other people – When you feel ready to try to connect with people, instead of trying to reach out or move toward people, stand still and look around the room. Use soft eye contact. Take others in. Look gently and kindly at people. Be available but not active. Be still and receptive. Be the space to receive others. You are seeking anyone who is able to look back at you.
2. Only connect with the people who respond to you. The people who are able to look back at you are the ones in the room you want to connect with. They are the only ones with whom it will feel good to connect. So smile and use your sensitivity to invite the connection. Either move toward the person or wait for him/her to move to you.
3. Listen and ask questions – This is your strength. Be curious to find out about the person. Don’t be afraid to ask obvious questions.
4. When you meet someone who does not seem to have anything in common with you or whose industry is unknown to you, ask, “What are the challenges in your industry today?
5. Tell your story only after listening for some time. Especially when talking with an extrovert, you must let them talk first and wait. After listening for while, you will intuitively sense what to say to that person.
6. Ask what kind of client they want you to refer to them. Let them know you will keep their card and keep them in mind in the future. You will because you have connected deeply with that person.
7. Follow-up your connection with an e-mail, note or phone call after the networking event. Let them know how much you enjoyed connecting with them. If you think that this person is someone you can support and receive support from, invite them to meet with you to explore possible opportunities. I usually say something like, “If you think it might be valuable to both of us, I would like to meet for coffee or lunch to explore possibilities for working together.” Then the ball is in their court.
The people with whom you have connected this way are almost always good contacts for you. This approach uses the law of attraction to receive people who are on your wavelength. Give it a try and let me know what happens.
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