Abstract science, circle global network connection in hands on sunset backgroundHave you ever found yourself hesitating before entering a room of people? Have you dealt with sweaty palms, a racing heart, and a deepening sense of dread in the pit of your stomach? Do you feel pressure to make more meaningful career connections, but don’t know how to be more personable? Perhaps you merely think of yourself as an introvert personality, and exchanging chit chat or pleasantries with strangers feels like torture regardless of what the payoff could be.

You’re not alone!

“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne in 1624, the English poet’s famous phrase is still referenced today. Of course, it doesn’t always ring true for everyone – especially those who have a hard time overcoming social anxiety. If you’re not an outgoing person, networking likely sounds like an absolute nightmare, even if the benefit may be a leg up in career advancement or bettering your business communication skills.

Many people like you would rather stay at home with the dog than dare to venture out with co-workers for a cocktail, or would rather spend time with a good book than playing capture the flag at the company picnic. While you may have an arsenal of reasons to get out of going to mixers or work functions, you might not realize that you’re potentially missing out on a wealth of opportunities both personally and professionally.

So what exactly can be done to improve in this area if you consider yourself to be more reserved, but know that you need to branch out a little? Here are five different ways you can effectively network without having to be the life of the party. Networking could help you get that big client or promotion you’ve been wanting, so it’s worth putting forth the effort!

1. Don’t Commit to Staying the Whole Time

For someone who wouldn’t describe themselves as a social butterfly, it may be a given that there will be a limit on how long you plan to stay, but it’s easy to get roped into having just one more drink or sitting down with your colleagues instead of heading for the door. You can plan to “make an appearance” by choosing to only stay for an hour. You can always explain that you have a babysitter that you need to relieve, need to work early, or have an obligation the next morning. Knowing that you are making an effort to socialize with an exit plan in place could be the trick that sets your mind at ease so you can be present in the moment instead of watching the hands on your watch.

2. Keep Your Expectations Reasonable

Most introverted people are well aware of the importance of networking, but exactly how to go about it successfully can be daunting and stressful. Having a goal of how many hands you plan to shake, phone numbers you want to save, or people you plan to meet may help you. Try setting a goal before the event and striving to meet it, however, go easy on yourself and be discerning with you socialize with so as not to make it more exhausting than enjoyable.

It’s much more difficult for those with an introverted personality to force themselves to be sociable. No one other than you will be keeping a tally on how many people you meet, and the quality of the connections you make – so avoid extra stress by not making networking events into competitions.

3. Prepare Some Ice-Breakers or Jokes

You don’t need to be the life of the party to make others laugh – even really bad jokes can inadvertently tickle your peers (just make sure they’re not inappropriate or at someone else’s expense). If you have a few tried and true knee-slappers or anecdotes, the next cocktail hour with your colleagues may be a great place to unleash them so you can get your feet wet honing your networking skills. If you can walk away at the end of a get-together having made a few people chuckle, it’s likely that you made a good and perhaps memorable impression. You may even ask yourself “Am I really anxious in social situations? Or am I simply new to networking?”

4. Utilize Professional Networking Sites

Almost everyone participates in social media (though how often and to what degree varies), but not everyone knows that participating on professional social media sites could serve as an ice-breaker in developing your networking skills! By channeling your energy into connecting with others in your industry on these websites, you can ease into interaction before formally meeting.

Websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook will allow you to get as specific as you’d like with the types of connections you want to make, and they can easily open doors for new opportunities. You can make yourself more marketable and show off your skill sets by sprucing up your social media profiles and engaging with other professionals – often it’s easier for those with an introverted personality to do this online. By highlighting your accomplishments and areas of expertise on your profile(s), you can easily attract people to you, without having to “sell yourself” to a room of people in the traditional sense.

5. Become a Volunteer

Do you like helping out at special events and functions? Often times it’s easier for introverts to establish valuable relationships by being in an environment or situation that warrants a cohesive initiative to accomplish a collective goal, so having assignments and projects makes conversation and teamwork more comfortable. By voluntarily donating your time and energy to a cause or community effort, you’re making the choice to focus your energy on something that you care about – and what better way to meet people than to come together with others who share that interest?

You don’t have to limit yourself to volunteering at work or industry related events either – chaperoning at your child’s school, passing out water at a local marathon, or helping to clean up your city by recovering recyclables are great ways that you can get out of the house and network. Networking doesn’t necessarily mean you always have to slap on a suit and bring a stack of your business cards (although business cards are recommended in many situations) – just by being active in your community, you can encounter a wealth of possibilties

Do you feel a sense of relief knowing there are ways you can begin honing your business communication skills? Putting yourself “out there” doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems – it’s more about what works for you and less how you think others expect you to interact with them. Getting comfortable with networking takes practice, but once you start stepping outside your comfort zone you’ll find that the rewards have the potential to take you anywhere you want to go.

Get more business building tips from AmeriLife

Abstract science, circle global network connection in hands on sunset backgroundHave you ever found yourself hesitating before entering a room of people? Have you dealt with sweaty palms, a racing heart, and a deepening sense of dread in the pit of your stomach? Do you feel pressure to make more meaningful career connections, but don’t know how to be more personable? Perhaps you merely think of yourself as an introvert personality, and exchanging chit chat or pleasantries with strangers feels like torture regardless of what the payoff could be.

You’re not alone!

“No man is an island,” wrote John Donne in 1624, the English poet’s famous phrase is still referenced today. Of course, it doesn’t always ring true for everyone – especially those who have a hard time overcoming social anxiety. If you’re not an outgoing person, networking likely sounds like an absolute nightmare, even if the benefit may be a leg up in career advancement or bettering your business communication skills.

Many people like you would rather stay at home with the dog than dare to venture out with co-workers for a cocktail, or would rather spend time with a good book than playing capture the flag at the company picnic. While you may have an arsenal of reasons to get out of going to mixers or work functions, you might not realize that you’re potentially missing out on a wealth of opportunities both personally and professionally.

So what exactly can be done to improve in this area if you consider yourself to be more reserved, but know that you need to branch out a little? Here are five different ways you can effectively network without having to be the life of the party. Networking could help you get that big client or promotion you’ve been wanting, so it’s worth putting forth the effort!

1. Don’t Commit to Staying the Whole Time

For someone who wouldn’t describe themselves as a social butterfly, it may be a given that there will be a limit on how long you plan to stay, but it’s easy to get roped into having just one more drink or sitting down with your colleagues instead of heading for the door. You can plan to “make an appearance” by choosing to only stay for an hour. You can always explain that you have a babysitter that you need to relieve, need to work early, or have an obligation the next morning. Knowing that you are making an effort to socialize with an exit plan in place could be the trick that sets your mind at ease so you can be present in the moment instead of watching the hands on your watch.

2. Keep Your Expectations Reasonable

Most introverted people are well aware of the importance of networking, but exactly how to go about it successfully can be daunting and stressful. Having a goal of how many hands you plan to shake, phone numbers you want to save, or people you plan to meet may help you. Try setting a goal before the event and striving to meet it, however, go easy on yourself and be discerning with you socialize with so as not to make it more exhausting than enjoyable.

It’s much more difficult for those with an introverted personality to force themselves to be sociable. No one other than you will be keeping a tally on how many people you meet, and the quality of the connections you make – so avoid extra stress by not making networking events into competitions.

3. Prepare Some Ice-Breakers or Jokes

You don’t need to be the life of the party to make others laugh – even really bad jokes can inadvertently tickle your peers (just make sure they’re not inappropriate or at someone else’s expense). If you have a few tried and true knee-slappers or anecdotes, the next cocktail hour with your colleagues may be a great place to unleash them so you can get your feet wet honing your networking skills. If you can walk away at the end of a get-together having made a few people chuckle, it’s likely that you made a good and perhaps memorable impression. You may even ask yourself “Am I really anxious in social situations? Or am I simply new to networking?”

4. Utilize Professional Networking Sites

Almost everyone participates in social media (though how often and to what degree varies), but not everyone knows that participating on professional social media sites could serve as an ice-breaker in developing your networking skills! By channeling your energy into connecting with others in your industry on these websites, you can ease into interaction before formally meeting.

Websites such as LinkedIn and Facebook will allow you to get as specific as you’d like with the types of connections you want to make, and they can easily open doors for new opportunities. You can make yourself more marketable and show off your skill sets by sprucing up your social media profiles and engaging with other professionals – often it’s easier for those with an introverted personality to do this online. By highlighting your accomplishments and areas of expertise on your profile(s), you can easily attract people to you, without having to “sell yourself” to a room of people in the traditional sense.

5. Become a Volunteer

Do you like helping out at special events and functions? Often times it’s easier for introverts to establish valuable relationships by being in an environment or situation that warrants a cohesive initiative to accomplish a collective goal, so having assignments and projects makes conversation and teamwork more comfortable. By voluntarily donating your time and energy to a cause or community effort, you’re making the choice to focus your energy on something that you care about – and what better way to meet people than to come together with others who share that interest?

You don’t have to limit yourself to volunteering at work or industry related events either – chaperoning at your child’s school, passing out water at a local marathon, or helping to clean up your city by recovering recyclables are great ways that you can get out of the house and network. Networking doesn’t necessarily mean you always have to slap on a suit and bring a stack of your business cards (although business cards are recommended in many situations) – just by being active in your community, you can encounter a wealth of possibilties

Do you feel a sense of relief knowing there are ways you can begin honing your business communication skills? Putting yourself “out there” doesn’t have to be as hard as it seems – it’s more about what works for you and less how you think others expect you to interact with them. Getting comfortable with networking takes practice, but once you start stepping outside your comfort zone you’ll find that the rewards have the potential to take you anywhere you want to go.

Get more business building tips from AmeriLife

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