While extroverts are genuinely excited about meeting strangers and establishing new connections, introverts often cringe at the thought of business networking. Siobhan Becker offers some business networking tips on bizzabo.com to make the process of connecting at a convention a less daunting experience for introverts:
Do your homework in advance. Using social networking tools such as LinkedIn, research who else may be in attendance and send pre-event messages to introduce yourself.
Organize an after-hours group activity such as dinner or dancing. The event organizer can assist by providing email contacts of attendees who work in the same industry or live in your city. Contact the individuals with an invitation to an informal meetup.
If you are very shy, rehearse conversation starters and enders in advance of the event. While you don’t need a formal script, practice some key points that you can insert into a conversation when appropriate.
At the conference, bite the bullet and take the lead in initiating conversation. Discuss your company or a personal hobby. Conversation flows easier when you are familiar with the subject.
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It is less overwhelming to begin with one-on-one conversations, moving gradually to group interactions.
If you are uncomfortable about being in the spotlight, allow the other person take the lead. Ask open-ended questions that will give them the opportunity to talk. Stick to general topics such as what they like about the company they work for, or what they hope to gain from the conference.
Practice good listening skills. This will enable you to ask more thoughtful follow-up questions and your new contacts will feel more connected to you.
After conversing with a new contact, request their business card and follow up later using email, LinkedIn or the event’s app.