Sweaty palms? Small panic attacks as you park? Overwhelmed by the number of people at your meetup? It’s happened to all of us. As an introvert, networking can be as painful as nails on a chalkboard. Networking with strangers is a necessary evil to succeeding in any industry, but especially tech. From VCs to your next rockstar employee, it’s important to learn how to promote yourself, your company and quickly move away from small talk to business talk.
Here are five tips to effectively work the room as an introvert and one network on the go tip.
#1 Have your introduction ready
There’s nothing worse than someone asking you what you do and fumbling through words. Be clear and concise. Practice your pitch before you arrive — from your name to your company’s current status and accomplishments. Not sure how to brand yourself? Check out sites and social media profiles of similar people in your industry for inspiration.
#2 Identify events that cater to you and your business
Tailor your pitch to the networking event’s purpose. For example, if you are trying to find potential clients? Talk about your proudest accomplishments and how you use those skills to help them. It’s easier to have a specific purpose in mind when talking to people as this will help you build important connections faster.
Another way to attend an event is to volunteer. You’ll have easy access to panelists and attendees and a more natural way to connect.
#3 Bring a colleague or friend
Nothing will make you feel more at ease than having a colleague with you at a networking event, especially upon introducing your company’s pitch. It’s nice to have someone around that can add to your pitch when you momentarily blank out. You can also branch out and bring a friend in a different industry to get out of your comfort zone. Subscribe to events on Facebook and Eventbrite to see what friends are going to which events and then reach out.
#4 Set a time limit and goals for yourself
Commit to staying an hour instead of the duration of the event. During that hour, challenge yourself to talk to three or five people — you set the number. If you set approachable goals for yourself, the pressure won’t be as overwhelming. You’ll feel accomplished and more likely to return to networking events.
#5 Come up with questions beforehand
There’s nothing worse than boring small talk when you meet someone that could help you and your business. Prepare questions beforehand tailored to finding out more about other attendees and how they can help your business. Perhaps you want to know more about their startup career ladder? Ask where they have been before and what positions they’ve held. Or ask about their experience with talking to VCs, maybe they have insight to offer that could help your business skyrocket. Share personal stories as you ask these questions — you don’t want it to feel like an interrogation.
#6 Networking doesn’t stop at events
Make a list on Twitter of companies you admire and leaders in your area of interest. Follow them and engage in conversation through retweeting, commenting or sharing insights. Another way to meet new people via Twitter is by following hashtags of relevant conferences. Couldn’t attend? No problem, engage with attendees and panelists by asking questions, responding to action items and sharing content.
Looking for more ideas on how to network? How about the best nooks in Atlanta to get your netdrinking on?
Image via Dell’s Official Flickr Page