How To Network When You're An Introvert

Last night Danny and I attended a banquet for several of the city's partner groups, including the chamber of commerce, convention and visitors bureau and main street organizations. In a few weeks I will begin working part-time for them, and this was a great event to start things off.

That being said, the first half hour of the evening was the hardest for me. These events always have a social hour, and since I'm an introvert, this is a challenge.

On the bright side, there are several ways an introvert can be part of a crowded room without sweating bullets.

* Start on the wall, but don't stay there. Introverts generally don't like being thrown into the center of things, as we're not usually comfortable in new situations. Take a minute or two to get the lay of the land, getting comfortable and warmed up for the next phase of your plan.

* Find one person. While you're on the fringes, look for one person that you know or know of. Once you've found them, let go of the wall and go talk.

* Ask questions. Stop rehearsing what you might talk about and ask them just one question. Their answer will lead to another question, and the next thing you know you'll be having an easy conversation.

* Move in and out of the crowd as necessary. Introverts often need a few minutes alone to recharge their batteries. Large groups drain our energy quickly, so it's ok to get a drink of water, find the bathroom or step outside. Just don't stay in any of those places for very long.

* Have someone introduce you to someone else. You don't necessarily have to strike up a conversation on your own, which can be awkward when you're introverted. When you're done talking to that first person, ask them who you should talk to next. This opens the door to having them introduce you and tell you something about them. Then you can ask questions more easily.

* Have an accountability partner. Danny knows me better than anyone, so having him with me at the event last night was invaluable. I like to start an event just like I've described here, and Danny is more than willing to move me away from the wall if I stay there too long. Recruit your husband, a friend or co-worker as your motivation to make the most of the event.

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