Does the idea of introducing yourself to a constant series of strangers over multiple days make you sick to your stomach?
Do you tend to enjoy quiet concentration, listen more than you talk, and think before you speak?
If that sounds like you, then you are probably an introvert. But that doesn’t mean a conference or tradeshow needs to be a source of stress.
Here are some tips for introverts to network at conferences:
Pre-Network: Reach out to fellow attendees in advance of a conference through social media and the event app.
Be Prepared: Set up meetings in advance. Practice your elevator speech. Have questions ready to ask when chatting with new people, and be a good listener.
Start with a Smile: You don’t have to be the one that breaks the ice, but you should be approachable. Just smile. People will walk up and start talking.
Use Your Surroundings: There are lots of chances to introduce yourself – just keep your eyes open for them. Take an empty chair with a group at lunch, introduce yourself, and participate in the conversation.
Let Them Talk: If you’re still shaky continuing on a with a conversation after you’ve built rapport and recited your elevator pitch – let them talk. Ask their thoughts about an industry issue or a business decision you are facing. Then, sit back and listen, and you’ll often walk away with a great networking connection.
Get a Conference Friend: As you pre-network, find somebody to be your wingman – it makes it way easier to meet people.
Just Be There: It can be tempting to decide you’re backed up on work and then camp out in your hotel room. Don’t do that. Be with people as much as possible. Take some breaks away to recharge, but not too many.
Become a Conference Speaker: Some speakers don’t like speaking, either. They still get nervous. But it’s great exposure, plus it results in people seeking you out.
Come on out and network in your way, introverts. Try these strategies to make your next conference the most productive time it can be for you.