How to Network in Person as an Introvert
Do you want to network in person as an introvert but don’t know how? Maybe you consider yourself an introvert because you have a science background? Do you think this means you won’t be ‘good at networking’? There is often a stereotype that science students are introverts because of the amount of analytical work we have to do. Sometimes, this is true. But other times, we put this perception on ourselves and dwell on it. This can make us reluctant to put ourselves out there when doing things like networking. Building relationships in your network is a really important skills for career development. There are ways of doing this online, but sometimes meeting people in person is necessary to form a stronger, more authentic relationship. If you do feel you need strategies to help you through this, here are some ways you can network in person as an introvert:
Have questions and talking points prepared
Being prepared before you go into a networking scenario can really ease your nerves. The main things to prepare are questions to ask others, talking points and making sure you can articulate what you do well. What these questions and talking points are all depends on the scenario you are going into. For example, if you are job searching, your questions might be focused on finding out about other people’s roles and industries. The talking points could be centred on what you read in the news recently about your target industry. You should also practise summarising your own experience and what you can offer in 3 or 4 lines, as you are likely to be asked this too.
Start with 1:1 conversations
Introverts are often better at building relationships 1:1 and it can be less intimidating to do this. Whether you are at a networking event or looking to generally build connections, starting with 1:1 conversations can be much easier. At an event, don’t focus on approaching that big crowd of people. Just try having a conversation with one other person. Even one good connection made is a success after a networking event. If you want to build your network at your current workplace, arrange 1:1 coffee meet-ups during or after work. You already have something in common since you work at the same company. You don’t need to go to company networking events to build your network there!
Arrive early at networking events
If you do go to an event, arriving early can make you feel more comfortable. It is less intimidating walking into a room with a few people than a crowded, noisy room. You can then approach other early arrivals without having to ‘compete’ with others. Then, once you have started having conversations early on, you are more likely to get into a flow. As the crowd starts to build up, you will feel more confident in that setting as you will have been there a while. Also, if no one is there apart from the event organisers, these are also people you can start chatting to! They will be very approachable as they want the event to go well. You can practise your networking skills on them!
Ask for introductions
Meeting someone you are introduced to can feel more comfortable than approaching someone yourself with no connection between you. In any scenario, try asking someone you already have a connection with if they know anyone you could speak to for your specific aim. The mutual connection between the two of you will make the other person also feel more comfortable with your approaching them. Make sure you also think about how you can help that person too, and follow up with the connector to express your gratitude. To try and network in person as an introvert can seem like a challenging prospect. This is often due to our own limiting beliefs which can stop us from activities like networking. Remember that it can often be a strength, especially when building relationships 1-to-1. Use the tips above to ease yourself in to networking situations and build up connections and confidence over time.
If you are ready to take your career outside the lab and want to know how to start, watch our webinar on How Science Graduates Can Get a High Paying Job Outside the Lab Even if You Have Little to No Work Experience.