Networking and building professional connections can be a bit stressful, even if you’re an outgoing person.
For introverts, the process of meeting new people can be intimidating. But as we all know, opportunities aren’t always presented based off what we know but rather who we know.
While “no new friends” may have made a good catchphrase for a DJ Khaled song, the idea of limiting your network is never good when it comes to your work life. Below are a few tips to help even the most shy person break the ice in a room full of new faces.
1. Prepare: Before attending an event, be sure to do your research on what type of event it is and the type of people who will be in the room. Make a plan of who you want to connect with and why. This will help to alleviate the stress of feeling like a complete outsider who has no clue about the interests or likes of people in the room.
2. Pay a compliment: It’s not easy going up to a complete stranger and striking a conversation. However, everyone likes to receive a compliment and telling someone that you like their dress or tie can be just the start you need to build a budding professional relationship with someone new.
3. Start small: Being in the presence of a large crowd can sometimes make you want to shrink and stand in a corner all night. Instead of going to large networking events where there will be hundreds of people, look into smaller events put on by local organizations or professional groups. Being able to maneuver the room and network with a small crowd will build your communication confidence for larger events in the future.
4. Have a networking partner: When you have a partner-in-crime to attend an event with the idea of making new connections can be less intimidating. When invited to an event, ask a friend or colleague if they would like to attend with you. However, be sure that you don’t fall into the trap of talking to just that person the entire night.
5. Don’t ignore the person in the corner: At networking events, it’s easy to pay attention to the person who seems to know everyone and ignore the person who is standing in the corner alone. Building a connection with someone one-on-one can be easier than trying to introduce yourself to a group of 4-5 people in the middle of the room. Start by paying that person a compliment or simply saying “hi.” You never know, they can be the connection you need for your next dream job.