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The Shy Professional: Social Networking Tips for Introverts

Updated on August 28, 2014

Professional Social Networking - How to Overcome Shyness

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Photo by jscreationzs | Source

Getting the Most out of Social Networking

Social Networking Fears

Do you feel shy when around a large group of people?

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Getting the Most out of Social Networking

Initially my husband and I were supposed to attend one particular networking event together, but he got called to a last minute business trip. Therefore, I had to go it alone; can I tell you how terrified I was? He is the social butterfly; I am not. This video (to the right) by Arden Clise, with Clise Etiquette, shares four tips to get the most out of a networking event.

  • First, she says to find out who will be attending and then decide who you want to meet with. - If I was meeting with other business colleagues or known professionals in my industry, this would be a possibility.
  • Second, as soon as you get to the event, look for the people that you want to meet. I plan to seek out the most friendly and non threatening faces. ;-) Also, I may ask someone at the event to introduce me to those with the same interests. I believe color coded name tags are provided to identify similar industries.
  • Three, spend no more than about five minutes per person talking to them. According to Clise, people are only good for about five minutes of small talk.
  • Four, follow up with the people that you've connected with. Invite the contact to connect with you on LinkedIn. Personalize the message so they know where you met and what you talked about. Invite them out for coffee or lunch and stay in touch to grow your network.

How to Network even if You're an Introvert

Three MAIN Professional Social Networking Tips

  • SMILE
  • SHAKE HANDS
  • MAKE EYE CONTACT

Drunk at Professional Social Networking Event - Don't do it!

Photo by iosphere
Photo by iosphere | Source

Are you a shy introvert, like me, when it comes to social networking?

Arrive early to the event before all the chaos starts to help get your feet wet. Find someone to start a conversation with who might be as timid as you are. Try to avoid someone who looks like a social butterfly. Take a breath and slow down your speech when you are talking because you might come off as nervous. Just relax and try to have a good time.

Schedule a few events for the future so that you can "practice" and get used to social networking to help you become more relaxed with starting conversations with people. You may start to recognize people that you saw at other events which will help you to start conversations early by saying, "Hey, it's good to see you again".

Be yourself when you're at one of these events. People can always do research and find out who you really are and what type of person that you are. If you schedule coffee or lunch with someone they may be put off if you are different than you were at the social networking event. The only thing that you should fake at a social networking event is a smile. Smiling makes people feel more comfortable to talk to and engage with you.

Do not get drunk because you are nervous. Don't be the guy or gal who embarrasses themselves and ruins his or her reputation for a few weeks. People will be taking pictures and videos which they will put on facebook and may even tag you. Slow down, sip slowly, have a water between every alcoholic beverage, and eat something.

How to Overcome Shyness at a Networking Event

How to overcome shyness at a Networking Event

Jane Frankland, from the Go To Expert, explains how to network at an event. She brings out points to overcome shyness, or being overwhelmed, at a networking event. This will definitely help me because I do feel like I'm about to have a panic attack when meeting new people in a large group setting.

  • First, she recommends to go into the event smiling and look approachable, welcoming, and happy. She actually recommends acting as a happy lovable puppy with your tail wagging (but don't be over the top).
  • Two, when you are approaching a group try to hover at the sidelines, mirror the speakers, and look as if you are paying attention to what they are saying (hopefully you are anyway). Slowly as the group opens up, they will allow you in and then you can contribute to the conversation, too.
  • Three, use some of the facilities like registration, coffee and tea station, or even the restrooms. You can strike up conversations literally everywhere and talk about anything. Start by talking about something mundane like the weather.
  • Finally, use the even organizer by asking if they can introduce you to someone.

Nervous or Confident? Prepare before you go to be Confident!

Photo by Stuart Miles
Photo by Stuart Miles | Source

Questions to Ask

What do you say or talk about when you first meet someone at a social networking event? What about if there is a silence in the conversation? First, decipher if the person wants to talk to you. Don't take it personally if the person doesn't act like they want to talk to you; just move on to the next person. When you find someone who does want to talk, remember to engage the conversation you need to ask more questions and listen to the other person rather than holding the floor by speaking more.

Ask open ended questions, instead of yes or no questions. This allows the other person to speak more which makes you appear more interesting; building and maintaining rapport.

Have they been there before? Is there something they can recommend? If they haven't been there before, find out what they are doing there. How did they get started in their position, business, or industry? Can they offer you any advise for their line of work? What do they love most about their job? What separates their business from the competition? What dream would you pursue if you knew that you could not fail? What is the most akward or funniest thing that you've encountered in your business? What significant changes have taken place in your industry? What upcoming trends do you foresee for your profession? What ways have you found most effective for marketing your products? If someone could describe you in one word (or sentence), what would they say? What do you do with your free time? What would make someone an ideal employee for your business?

None of these questions will help you if you are not absolutely attentive and interested in the other person.

Leaving

Don't get in the car and overanalyze the entire trip to the point that you're worried about what was said when you left the conversation, if they liked your appearance, or if you did something wrong. Instead, try to think about how you can have an even better time in your next networking event.

Have we improved your confidence level?

After reading this article, do you feel more confident about attending a professional social networking event?

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Comments Please...

What tips have you found that could help others with professional social networking (in general) and overcoming shyness?

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Oddly, I'm an introvert who loves social networking. I have no problem with conversations online, but face-to-face is painful. Great suggestions here.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      I am quite introverted but have no problem talking with others when I need to -- even complete strangers. It's just that it is tiresome and over stimulating I'd rather do something else after awhile. You do provide some good tips for those who want to break out and talk with others and mix it up.

    • Melinda Longoria profile image
      Author

      Melinda Longoria, MSM 2 years ago from Garland, Texas

      Billybuc, I am the exact same way! Online conversations are a breeze, but I stumble over my words when in face to face situations.

      FlourishAnyway, after preparing myself with the tips in this hubpage (and getting a few drinks in me), I can truly say that I was able to come out of my shell. As you said, being in a group setting (for me with loud noises) is also stimulating. I had to tune a lot of the background chatter out. Before going, I think it was more of a fear of the unknown. So, for the next professional social networking event, I will definitely be more confident.

      I found the key to starting conversations, for me, was to begin with a funny question to get them laughing during the conversation. These seemed to be the most interesting and successful conversations.

      Thanks for your comments & stopping by today. Happy networking you guys! :-)

      Sincerely,

      Mel

    • Melinda Longoria profile image
      Author

      Melinda Longoria, MSM 2 years ago from Garland, Texas

      I still prefer small one on one conversations instead of a large group surrounding. I personally can get deeper into a conversation this way. The conversations seem more meaningful. When too many people start joining the group, I tend to step away and find the next loner to talk to & hopefully that is encouraging to them as well. The whole time, I am watching facial expressions and body language to make sure that the other person is interested in the conversation; always asking questions; always listening intently.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Melinda, I mirror Bill's comment. A few months back my city sponsored a get together for local businesses. I made myself go because I need to find local clients. At first it was easier than I thought. Everyone was cordial, we talked about our businesses and exchanged cards. Then conversation dumped and I found myself hanging out with the DJ. Music is the universal language, right? :-)

      I sent follow-up emails to the people whose card's I'd received, chatted up a bit about how nice the event was and how wonderful it was to meet them, then I reminded them that I was available to help them with their copy, web content, etc.

      I don't like going to public events alone. Especially if I'm there to market myself. It just is not comfortable for me. So, I find myself between a rock and a hard place.

      I feel your pain, Melinda. I really do. However, I commend you for not finding a reason to not attend. How did it work out for you?

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