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.

Self-Love: Ten Tips to Take Care of Me

By Kristen Harris

It’s Valentine’s Day, so who do you love? Please, please, say “me!”

This is the season for love and there is no one more important to love than yourself. Yes, go get that card and sweet gift for your special someone, then get right back here and give yourself a little self-love.

Not even sure what that is? To me, self-love is really about being nice to yourself, doing things that you love to do, treating yourself the way you would treat anyone else that you really love. It’s a funny thing–we often don’t treat ourselves nearly as well as we treat others. Let’s stop doing that!

Here are a few self-love things I treat myself to:

  1. Time Alone. I’m an introvert. I actually like to be alone and need a break from others to recharge.

  2. Chocolate. I love really good, really dark chocolate and treat myself to it on a regular basis. No further explanation needed.

  3. Hot Tea. Tea warms and soothes me from the inside out. I especially love bringing something home from a trip as a little reminder of my travels.

  4. Reading. I love to read all sorts of things, but when I’m really treating myself it’s a good fiction book. No self-help, no improving the business. Just a great story that I can get lost in.

  5. Being Nice. Overall I’m a nice person, but we are often nicer to others than we are to ourselves. It’s important to be kind, forgive myself, and not have unrealistic expectations.

  6. Hot Bath. One of my favorite ways to wrap up the weekend is a nice hot bath with a deliciously scented bath bomb. It forces me to relax while the bath bomb oils do their magic on my extra-dry skin.

  7. Say No. I simply can’t say “yes” to every request or opportunity that comes my way. See Point #1 Introvert. Sometimes saying “no” to protect my time and energy is a form of self-love.

  8. Friends. One thing I try to say “yes” to is time with friends. I love to hang out over a cup of coffee (or tea) talking about nothing and everything.

  9. Yoga. I always feel mentally and physically untangled after a nice yoga session, whether it’s a class at a studio or fifteen minutes in my basement.

  10. Be Positive. Someone recently told me that what you say aloud is probably what will happen, it’s your truth. I’ve been accused of being unnaturally happy, so I’ll consider being purposefully positive a form of self-care.

Some of these items feel a little selfish and that’s the point. Self-love is about showing yourself love, putting yourself first. Make your own list and show yourself a little love this Valentine’s Day and every day!

Networking for Introverts: 10 Tips to Survive and Thrive at Events

By Kristen Harris

NETWORKING. Just the word can send a chill down the spine of an introvert.

When someone says, “do you want to go to this networking event?” I envision everything I hate—walking into a room full of strangers, an overload of social chitchat, needing to interrupt others to get a word in edgewise, shaking hands and handing out cards to everyone in the room, pitching my business or myself a thousand times—ugh. Let me just go home and curl up with a good book instead. If this is how you feel, you’re probably an introvert too.

I have some good news for us! Networking events don’t have to be painful. They can productive, useful, and maybe even fun.

Here are 10 Tips to Help Introverts Make the Most of Networking Events:

  1. Go with a friend. It’s intimidating to walk into a room full of strangers. Invite a co-worker or friend with similar interests. Go together, or arrange to meet at or near the event so you can walk in together.

  2. Give yourself a goal. When you’re considering whether to attend an event, think about what you can and want to get out of it. Assuming it’s a good fit for you, set a goal before you get to the event. It could be to meet three new people, get to know members of the board, or accept your award without tripping on the stage. It’s your goal, embrace it.

  3. Set a time frame. Before attending the event, decide when you’ll arrive and how long you’re going to stay. If you’re having so much fun that you don’t want to leave, that’s great! But if your “exit” time rolls around and you’re ready to go, leave without guilt. You met your commitment.

  4. Get to know a few people well. Introverts tend to gain energy from fewer, deeper relationships. If you meet someone you like, spend a little time with them. Getting to know a few people well can be more powerful than shaking hands with everyone but not being remembered by anyone.

  5. Ask for introductions. Look for someone you already know, and ask for an introduction to the person they’re talking you know two people! If you go with a friend, introduce each other to people you know. If you meet someone that you like, ask them to introduce you to someone else. Introductions build your network and relationships in a meaningful, memorable way.

  6. Have fun. Yes, events can be stressful. Focus on the parts that you enjoy…meeting a couple of interesting people, delicious food, a cool venue. Introverts really hate feeling embarrassed, and often think they did or said something awkward that EVERYONE noticed. Believe me, no one noticed or will remember, they’re all too focused on themselves. Just enjoy yourself. One note—if there are drinks involved, know your limit. People often drink more when they’re nervous, which can lead to those embarrassing moments.

  7. Reward yourself. After the event, spend a little time doing something you really enjoy, and congratulate yourself on stepping out of your comfort zone.

  8. Follow up after the event. Within a day or two of the event, reach out to anyone you met and want to maintain a connection. Send a LinkedIn invitation, or link them with a resource they might find useful. If it makes sense, invite them to meet for lunch or coffee soon.

  9. Get involved in the organization. One of the best ways to not walk into a room full of strangers is to be part of the organization hosting the event. Become a member, attend regular meetings, or volunteer for a committee or the board. Working together on a common interest is a great way to get to know people more deeply.

  10. Don’t over-commit. If you are an introvert, events and large groups of people will drain your energy. Pick and choose the best events to help you achieve your goals, and don’t feel like you have to attend everything all the time.

By applying these tips, I’m able to not only survive, but actually thrive and enjoy events. If you nodded along through this whole article, you’re probably an introvert. If you’re not sure, take this quick quiz: