Before you land that dream job you need to get the interview. Networking, along with job searching, can be an effective way of connecting you with the right people to place you in your position, as well as generate new clients if you’re an entrepreneur. But networking can be a daunting process, especially if you’re shy.
We interviewed Sandra Gabriel, founder of boutique branding agency Gabriel PR and lifestyle website FBI Style, and asked for tips for networking when you’re shy. Here she shares her personal advice on how you can make connections with others even if you’re timid.
Bring a friend
Bring an outgoing friend to help ease the tension a little bit. Your friend can naturally join the conversation in different circles and they will likely pull you in and introduce you.
If you show up before everybody else you can speak with the organizer, get to know them and ask them if they need help setting up anything. Assisting the host might give you the confidence you need to greet people as they arrive and start a conversation with them.
Just stand very close to a group of people and if you hear something that piques your interest say, ‘Oh, you know by the way, since you’re talking about that…’ Listen out for something that will catch your attention or something you can contribute to. At networking events, the expectation is that you’re going to get people coming up to you that you don’t know[who will be] joining groups to speak, so people are usually a lot more open. There might be a huddle of two or three or four people who randomly connected or they arrived together.
A lot of times it’s a matter of sucking it up and going. If you’re standing alone people will be like, ‘Hey I noticed you’re standing alone.’ That’s happened a few times just by going to networking events. I’ve met so many cool people standing there by myself because I’m too shy to talk to anybody. People actually come over to me and say ‘Hey.’
You Don’t Have to Network in Large Group or Events
The best way for shy people to network is online. LinkedIn is probably their best option. Networking doesn’t have to be among a large group of people. It could be a one-on-one over coffee or a small group of four or five in a workshop. With most businesses, if you network with just one person that converts to a customer, it doesn’t matter how many people were in the room, landing one client is excellent news! Or, if you make a connection with one person that helps you take a step towards or even meet your goals, then the form and format of networking won’t matter. In other words, a shy person can network in any way that is most comfortable and most natural for them.
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