If you’re an introvert working in the association space, there’s nowhere to hide from networking. But that’s ok! Contrary to popular belief, introversion isn’t a disadvantage. It’s simply a different way of doing things.
So if you’re an introvert working in the association space, behold your very own guide to networking:
Regardless of whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, you should always prepare before going to a conference. But if you are an introvert, this step is particularly important. Preparation is what’s going to make you feel the MOST comfortable - even if that’s still not your ideal level of comfort.
To successfully prepare, start by formulating a short, simple elevator pitch. That way, you won’t completely freeze when people ask, “So what do you do?” Next, try reaching out to other people you know will be there on social media - even if you’ve never met them before. Here’s an example: Let’s say you see someone tweeting using the conference hashtag. Try responding with something along the lines of, “Hey, I’ll be there too! We should plan to meet up!” Establishing a few pre-event connections can really help ease your networking nerves.
Get there early
If possible, try to be one of the first people who arrives at the event. It’s much less intimidating to approach a small group of people than it is to approach a large group of people who are already in the middle of a big conversation - especially when you have to then break into that conversation. Make it easy on yourself by arriving before the crowd.
Focus on what you’re good at
Talking amongst large groups of people may not be your thing, but perhaps one-on-one conversations are. If that’s the case, focus more on having those types of conversations. Remember, it’s not about the quantity of people you talk to; it’s about the quality of your conversations. So if you can kill it one-on-one with someone, go for it! At the end of the day, that’s really all you need to build a network of connections.
Take time to re-energize
It’s hard stepping outside of your comfort zone, and honestly, a little exhausting too. Sure, it can be tempting to go from a session straight to happy hour, but if you’re an introvert, you may want to take a little time out. Otherwise, you may not be able to bring your best self forward when it comes to your next commitment. So if you’re at a conference and need a little quiet time, don’t hesitate to take that break. You’ll be better for it in the end.
Want more tips for maximizing your conference experience? Check out our free Conference Survival Guide below!