By: Laura Vandiver, Director of Research and Certified MBTI Practitioner
I’ve been an introvert all my life. Even as a kid, I never felt quite comfortable in unfamiliar social situations and tended to stay away from them as much as possible. As an adult, I still find myself having a fair amount of anxiety about going to networking events or conferences where I don’t know anyone. But over the last few years I’ve learned to embrace my introversion, and have figured out a system for helping me tackle that networking event anxiety.
1) Find a buddy.
I recently went to a conference that had set up a “buddy” program, where new conference attendees could be matched up with a veteran attendee to show them the ropes and introduce them to new contacts. I found this to be extremely helpful. It’s much easier, I find, to be introduced to other people than to make the introductions on my own. If the networking event or conference you want to attend offers this service, take advantage of it. You might just make a new friend in the process! If the event doesn’t offer this service, try to bring a friend or colleague with you who can help you work the room.
2) Research who you want to meet before getting there.
Many conferences and networking events will send out a list of attendees and speakers before the event. Go through the list and highlight the top three people you really want to connect with. When you have a goal and a purpose for the event before you show up, you’re much more likely to actively look for those people and make the connections. You could also make connections with those people online (social media is perfect for this) and give those people a heads-up in writing that you’d like to connect at the event. Also, if you happen to run into someone you already know at the event, they may be able to help you locate those people and facilitate introductions for you.
3) Take a time out.
Since introverts find strength and energy from their internal world of thoughts and ideas, interacting in the outside world can be taxing. Take a time out during the event or conference to re-charge. Go for a walk or go back to your hotel room for 30 minutes. It will help you reflect on the connections you’ve made and help you plan how you could most effectively spend the rest of your time at the event.
4) Connect online.
Once you make those new connections, reinforce them online. “Friend” them on social media, and send them an e-mail outlining follow-up items from your conversation with them. Introverts tend to prefer written communication to verbal, so the Internet is a wonderful tool.
Whether you’re an introvert or an extravert, TVG offers Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) training to understand how personality preferences affect us at work and in our everyday lives. Ask us about our upcoming trainings! Call us at 314-991-4641 or visit our website at www.vandivergroup.com.