15 Networking Tips for Shy People
If you're someone who doesn't enjoy walking into a room of strangers, here's some tips to be comfortable and build confidence.
To some degree, everyone feels awkward at meeting new people, especially at a business networking event.
But for some the fear of being rejected can turn this powerful way of getting clients into an overwhelming experience.
Neuroscientists explain that there's a region in our brain that lights up when we're physically hurt. It's short name is called the dACC.
Interesting, when we experience emotional pain, the dACC also lights up. Essentially your brain doesn't know the difference between emotional and physical pain.
So as you avoid breaking an arm, you avoid being rejected by others.
If you're someone who finds it uncomfortable to walk into a room of strangers and strike up conversations, know it's perfectly normal.
Here's some tips to make networking comfortable and give you confidence that will draw people to you.
1) Be prepared. Before you go practice how you will introduce yourself. And be clear about who you want to meet. This will boost your confidence.
2) Be yourself. Don't try and be more extroverted than you are. Trust is built when both people are being honest about who they are and what they want.
3) Familiarity breeds confidence. When you first arrive at an event, connect with someone you know. As you chat, you'll start to feel comfortable which boosts your confidence. It then becomes easier to walk up to someone you don't know and connect.
4) Smile. If you cannot find a familiar face, look for someone who is smiling. Again neuroscientists say there's a neural pathway in the brain that mirrors other people’s emotions. Just looking at someone smiling can make you feel good. And always remember when you meet someone smile; you will make them feel good.
5) Be introduced. If you cannot find someone you know and no one is smiling, ask the host to introduce you to someone you would like to meet. It could be a specific person, or someone who fits your ideal connection.
6) Connect first. Don't ever pitch. When you're talking with someone discover what you have in common before taking the conversation deeper through great questions.
7) End conversations with class. If you do not find a connection with someone, you may feel uncomfortable. Politely disengage and meet someone else. You are under no obligation to talk to anyone any longer than you want.
8) Network with a friend. A great way to network is to go with someone you know. Your friend introduces you and you introduce your friend. Be sure you are meeting other people and not just hanging out with your friend though.
9) Get great at asking questions. When you ask questions, someone else is doing all the talking. If you're shy this is a great way to connect without having to expose too much about you. When you ask great questions, it keeps the conversation going, and you can listen to see if you would like to be part of their network.
10) Join a group of people. At first join them and be with them quietly, listening to what they are discussing. Then ask a question to engage in the conversation.
11) Don't over talk with someone. Remember your focus at the event is to find people for business relationships, and book an appointment with them, not make a sale.
12) Take the lead. If you would like to reconnect with someone, let the person know. Stand confident and take the initiative by asking to book an appointment to talk further.
13) Become a trusted resource. The easiest way to make a great impression is to share contacts, opportunities and ideas with others. This also provides you with another reason to connect after the event to further build the relationship.
14) Help another shy person. Take note of anyone in the room who is standing alone. Warmed up to others now go and warm up to them. They could be a lot like you - shy - and will welcome the help to get connected.
15) Network frequently. The best way to get good at something is to do it regularly. Notice what others do that makes you feel great and do that too. Notice what you do and say that builds connection and what doesn't. Learn as you go. Over time you may still feel awkward at times - but you will become a pro at overcoming that feeling and building a network where you thrive.
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