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8 Networking Tricks For Introverts to Ease Your Awkwardness

Networking can be a daunting task, especially if you have an introvert personality. Use these tips to build meaningful connections and get ahead.

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Do your research

Before attending a networking event, identify a few people that you would like to meet who you know will be in attendance. Make it a point to learn a bit about them and if you can, shoot them an email before the event to let them know you’re looking forward to meeting and chatting with them. This will take some of the pressure off your eventual meeting and give you something to discuss right off the bat, especially if you mentioned something specific to talk about in your email.

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Have a go-to icebreaker

Prepare a few conversation starters before the event so that you will have a few failsafe talking points to bring up, no matter who you wind up talking to. That way, you won’t end up scrambling for something to talk to or resorting to bland topics that will render you forgettable. These magic phrases can save any awkward conversation.

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Set a small goal

Don’t expect to become a networking expert overnight, or even after attending just a couple of events. Start off slow and build on your experiences. At your first few events, set a goal for a certain number of meaningful conversations to have, say, or the duration you will stay at the event, or how many follow-up emails or calls you’ll make afterward. As you become more comfortable, build off of these goals so you can be more productive.

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Get comfortable with getting personal

Try your best to be genuine and personable with those you’re speaking with. Though it’s going to be difficult not to feel like you’re putting on an act at first, having sincere conversations about meaningful topics will be the best way to help others remember you. Here’s how expert minglers naturally make small talk.

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Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date

Being active online and on social media is one of the best ways to follow up after meeting new people and establishing long-lasting connections that could help you down the line. LinkedIn is probably the best place to start, but know your industry: If it’s important to have a presence on Instagram or Twitter, make sure to start using those platforms regularly too. Any introvert will love these funny cartoons. 

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Get involved in the event

If you find yourself often making excuses to get out of or skip attending networking events, volunteer to help organize the event. This will not only ensure your attendance, but will also heighten your involvement and help you gain access and introduction to important individuals and speakers attending.

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Hone your listening skills

One of the many hidden strengths of introverts is their listening skills. This is great for building strong connections with people. Make sure you ask meaningful questions and the person with whom you’re conversing will be drawn in to the conversation.

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Experiment with the types of networking environments that work for you

If large events send you into a tailspin, seek out smaller events or set up small dinners or one-on-one coffee dates with people that want to connect with. They can help put you in contact with other people who you can get to know in similar settings. Avoid getting frazzled with these tips from super-calm people.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest