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A Networking Guide for Introverts

By Jamé Jackson

Imagine you’re at a magazine networking event, but instead of standing amidst your colleagues laughing and talking, you’re huddled in the corner, alone and afraid. Unfortunately, some of us are not the most outgoing when it comes to new social settings and having to fraternize to build our network can be excruciating. To all my introverts, don’t fret–here are 5 tips to help get you excited, prepared and poppin’ at your next happy hour.

1) Come Prepared 

While some people can naturally come up with cool facts about themselves or ways to break the ice, others may need a little warming up. Come prepared. Before you head to the networking event, think of some interesting facts about yourself. Have you traveled overseas? Know how to speak another language? Thinking of these things in advance and keeping them in your back pocket prepares you when the inevitable “So, tell me about yourself?” question comes up. 

Next, come with a purpose. This will help you focus your actions around that reason. Are you there to build connections? Looking for a job and want to sell yourself as the perfect candidate? Someone you look up to is going to be there and you want to ask for an informal interview? Know your purpose and don’t leave without addressing it.

2) Fake it Till You Make It

If you’re not feeling confident, fake it! Search through your closet and pull out your favorite outfit, your boldest lipstick, and those heels that make you feel like Beyoncé. You don’t have to pretend you’re the life of the party, but there’s something otherwordly about dressing up that makes you feel better internally. At some point, you won’t feel like you’re faking it; it’ll just be happening.

3) Don’t Play the Numbers Game

Don’t try to talk to everyone. It’s a huge task that may leave you feeling anxious. One thing I like to do is point out 3-5 people in the room I’d like to talk to. Once I talk with them, I can gauge whether to meet other people or continue talking with them. Meaningful conversations mean something. There have been events where I’ve only talked with one person, but that one person was just who I needed. Work to have dialogue that is relevant, leaves a lasting impression, and is unique to the person. It should help you calm down a little knowing that networking is not a numbers game.

4) Breathe

Okay, I wouldn’t normally think to add this one, but I literally can feel myself not breathing when caught in an anxiety-inducing moment. When you realize you’re not breathing (like when you’ve just been asked an on-the-spot question and find yourself internally crumbling), stop and take a second to decompress. It’s something that takes time to master, but active breathing will keep you in the moment and decrease stress levels.

5) Don’t Forget to Laugh

One time I attended a networking event and was being way too hard on myself. In an effort to be perfect, I kept falling short. In the midst of my frustration, I took a second and realized just how silly I was being. Finally, I just burst into laughter and was able to relax for the first time that night. At the end of the day, you’re probably judging yourself much harder than anyone else in the room. When feeling overwhelmed, take a second to find the humor in the situation. Laughing relieves stress, shakes off the tension, and brings you back to a moment of pure enjoyment.

Jamé Jackson is a freelance writer in New York City. She loves all things fashion, beauty, and #GirlBoss related. She can be seen spreading her magic on Instagram @Theblondemisfit and her website, Theblondemisfit.com.

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