volunteer

Networking Ninja: How Introverts Can Get the Most Out of Any Event

By Kristen Harris

Some people love networking. They really like meeting new people, chatting in the grocery line, making friends on the airplane. When they walk into a room full of strangers they just see potential future friends. These people extroverts and they are not me.

I like people, I really do. But I want to have the chance to get to know them, to understand who they are, what they think and where they’re coming from. I’m an introvert but I’m not anti-social. I just need to apply a few tactics that make networking work for me.

These are my top tips for how introverts can get the most out of any event or networking opportunity.

  1. Just Go. To get something out of an event you have to attend. I know it seems obvious, but this is actually a challenge for me. Something sounds interesting, I sign up, I plan to go...then the day comes and the idea of attending sounds exhausting. To overcome this I simply make myself go, and I never regret it. Once I’m there I have a great time, it’s usually way more fun than I expected, and I’m so happy I attended. Don’t second-guess yourself, just go.

  2. Arrive Early. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s better to arrive early to an event. You may think it’s better to arrive later and quietly slip in, but it never works that way. When you arrive later people have broken into groups and are engaged in conversations. Now you have to try to join an ongoing conversation or feel like you’re interrupting. I hate that! When you arrive early it’s easy to start chatting with the few other people who are there and keep adding people to your group as they arrive. Plus you’ll get to meet the leaders of the event or organization which leads to…

  3. Get Involved. I get involved with organizations I like and events I want to attend. It’s much easier for me to meet people one-on-one or in small groups, and I like having something to do. When I have a responsibility or am volunteering on behalf of the organization, part of my job is to greet people and engage others in conversation. It’s also a great way to meet people who are well-connected...

  4. Meet the Influencers. There are influencers in any group or organization. Identify one or two people you’d like to know and make a point of meeting them. It’s much less stressful to focus on a few particular people rather than feeling as if I have to make friends with the whole room before I leave.

  5. Follow Up. If you truly enjoy getting to know people like I do, follow up after the event. Reach out to someone that you chatted with to continue the conversation. Send them an article or connect them with someone else they should know. Networking might happen at an event but real relationships are built over time.

For more tips on networking for introverts, check out our article Networking for Introverts: 10 Tips to Survive and Thrive at Events.

Spreading The Love

By Catherine Lang-Cline

We go through our lives doing the same thing every day. We wake up, we eat, we go to work, we hang out with family and friends, we go to bed, and restart the next day the same way. A normal life can be a lovely thing. Sometimes we want something more. Sometimes we wish we could make some sort of difference outside of the walls of our home, our work, wherever our life is taking place. 

Let’s say that the best thing about your job is that it can pay your bills. You are not the only one that feels that way. What if you could escape that job and the daily march of your day and do something that touches your soul and warms your heart, maybe something that changes a life or changes the world around you. One of the best ways to achieve that "difference" is to volunteer or join groups that match your passion or a group that can appreciate and use your talents. Spread the love! 

Let’s start simple. Maybe your head sings when you read? Head to the library or bookstore and browse. Don’t leave without picking up something. Maybe to are ready to join a book club that will hold you accountable? Do you love knitting or racing or back in the day you used to camp more? Find ways to find that love again. Sure, it can sometimes feel ridiculous or someone may try and talk you out of it, but this what YOU need to show YOU that you love YOU. Who cares if you are the only 40-year-old on the dance floor? You love to dance!

Let’s take it even further. Let’s say that you want to make a difference in politics, in helping the disadvantaged, maybe there is a disease that has affected you or a family member. There are many, many groups out there that you can join or volunteer to help in their mission. I love small business, mentoring women, and the arts just to name a few. As a result, I have joined boards, given donations, offered my talents, and ran a few races in support of these groups. Sharing that love with these groups has in return, filled my soul. A full soul is telling yourself that you are loved. The bonus is that you love and passion are now helping others feel loved.

There are many ways to spread the love, you might have a talent for accounting or design or organizing things. Not everyone does, so you would be a godsend to many groups. Ask what they need, ask how you can help. You might simply find yourself in a soup kitchen lending a hand. You will never understand how your hand is making a difference in someone else’s life.

People that read might feel lonely if they can’t talk about the book.
People that run or race would love to have someone keep them accountable.
People in need can use so much of everything.
Find your people and spread the love.