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5 Networking Tips for Shy People

5 Networking Tips for Shy People

Margaret Steen | HotJobs

Volunteer at large events.
Instead of going to a professional association meeting and trying to strike up conversations with strangers, volunteer to help organize or run the meeting, for instance.

“Many people find it easier to become acquainted with others by making a contribution rather than making small talk,” Civitelli says. You can help find speakers for an event or serve on a committee, for example. Both of these activities will give you a purpose at the event — and the work itself is a good networking opportunity.

“The networking happens naturally, and the focus is on accomplishing something,” Civitelli said. “You’re getting to know people, but you’re getting to know them because you’re part of a team with a goal.”

Arrive early for group events.
Introverts tend to procrastinate about going to big events. Then they arrive and find the other guests already gathered in intimidating small groups.

Gelberg encourages introverts to go early instead: “Those groups haven’t formed yet. There are just a few random people who have shown up early, and they’re delighted to have someone to talk to. Then you become part of the group.”

Don’t set unrealistic goals for group meetings.
For example, don’t pressure yourself to meet everyone. Instead, set a goal of talking to five new people, for example. If the event has an attendee list, you can always send follow-up emails to people you didn’t have a chance to talk to. (Want more networking tips? Don’t miss “How to Make Networking Really Work.”)

Network online — in moderation.
Social networking sites can play a valuable role in networking: they help you keep up your connections with people who may be able to help you, and connecting virtually can be less stressful than face-to-face interaction. Just be sure you don’t spend so much time connecting online that you never connect in person.

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