Oct 16, 2019 If you’re an introvert, it can be hard to get out of your comfort zone. We have a few suggestions to help you make the most out of networking, without wasting all of your social energy. Find a Networking Buddy You don’t always have to go at it alone—having a buddy can make large events much less intimidating. So bring a colleague or friend to your next networking event or conference. If you do have to fly solo, try to reach out and make just one connection. That way, you’ll have someone to sit with during lunch breaks and someone to wave hello and introduce to others. And you’ll probably be surprised at how much fun you’ll have! Smile You don’t always have to initiate—but if you’re hiding against the wall with your arms crossed over your chest, you’re not giving off a very approachable vibe, either. So try to relax, smile, and look as warm and casual as you can—it’ll open the door for someone to walk up to you and start the conversation. Over 80% of communication is nonverbal, so your body language and different cues will send messages that you may not even know you’re sending. Try to adopt positive body language even when not engaging in conversation. Challenge Yourself This year, one of the Career Services Peer Ambassadors took on a networking challenge—he met with four people he knew and four people he didn’t know every month. Through these connections, he got an interview and many referrals—not to mention a newfound confidence and a clearer sense of direction in his career. Even if you don’t go this far, think about how you can challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone just a little bit. It might have unexpected—and great—results. Network One-on-One Not all networking needs to be done at a big event or meet-up. While group conversations can be a struggle for introverts, a one-on-one conversation can give them an opportunity to show off keen listening skills, and make a solid connection. Suggest coffee dates and other one-on-one interactions, and ask friends and colleagues to set you up on chats with people outside of your immediate network. Rate the Likelihood of Connecting Every networking event should be subjected to a cost-benefit analysis: if you weren’t here, what would you be doing instead? Running the numbers is particularly important for introverts, because even if the alternative isn’t something overtly productive like writing a new business proposal, the cost side of the equation can be steep: you may be exhausting yourself emotionally for hours or days afterward. Then follow up by asking how likely it is that you’ll actually get to connect with them. Large, loud events may hinder your chances. Take Networking Online For many, it's the in-person quality of networking events that can be particularly challenging. The idea of having to go up to strangers can be enough to make hands sweat and stomachs roll. Fortunately, we live in a digital age. Take your networking to the web: establish an active Twitter presence and interact with people in your field. Bulk up your LinkedIn profile and activity as well. We hope these suggestions are helpful. Networking is crucial to career success, so take advantage of opportunities to network and you'll continue to grow professionally.