How To Network Like A Human Being: 7 Tips From Bumble Bizz
This summer, we’re exploring flow. How can we practice personal and professional patience with the things we’re working on? How can we honor our ebbs and flows?
So today, we’re talking networking. We know we need community to survive—especially if we’re trying to launch a business, do good within our communities or build a professional network of support. But networking can feel awkward and uncomfortable. And for those of us who are introverted? Downright scary.
We deserve to meet people without feeling the pressure to perform. So, we asked our friends at Bumble Bizz for their best, introvert-friendly networking tips. How can we approach meeting new people in a way that feels more manageable? Keep reading for answers.
If the mere thought of interacting with a group of people is exhausting, it’s no surprise that getting fired up about networking feels like a challenge. Putting yourself in the spotlight among dozens of strangers? You might be asking, “Why would I?”
Well, for a few good reasons.
No matter your Myers-Briggs personality type, Carl Jung, the psychiatrist who popularized the terms introversion and extroversion, says we’re all a blend of the two. How you’re specifically wired determines how you respond to social stimulation as well as what recharging looks like for you. If you’re more introverted than extroverted, you shouldn’t avoid networking at all costs. Instead, you’ll benefit from methodically planning for the amount of stimulation you can handle and how to best unwind afterwards.
In fact, as an introvert, your unique strengths already make you a strongly-equipped networker. Former Google executive Karen Wickre covered this topic in depth with her book Taking the Work Out of Networking: An Introvert's Guide to Making Connections That Count. Wickre explains that introverts are great listeners and observers, as well as being inherently curious about others. This gives them the advantage of making a few meaningful connections rather than trying to shake every hand in the room.
So trust us when we say the benefits of networking extend well beyond multiplying your professional connections. Growing your circle means setting yourself up for the inevitable next steps: changing jobs, moving up in your career, or perhaps even relocating to a new city or state. The more people you meet outside your immediate circle, the easier it will be to find new opportunities when you’re ready for them.
Here are a few tips for becoming more comfortable in social situations that are geared toward networking and meeting new people:
1.) Know your intention.
What are you looking for at this point in your career? Are you looking for a new role, a new company, a new industry, experts in your field, a mentor, or a mentee? Knowing what you’re looking for and why will help narrow your search for networking opportunities and will help shape your conversations.
2.) Discover relevant groups.
Since not all networking events are created equally, it will be much easier to connect with attendees if you have more in common than your city, industry, or job title. What else are you interested in? Local art, food, wine? Events that incorporate more than one interest will give you much more to discuss — and look forward to.
3.) Know your mental and physical needs.
Set yourself up for success by seeking out scenarios that make you feel most comfortable. Identify your best time of day to socialize (morning vs. evening events), your ideal setting (indoor vs. outdoor, e.g.), and even the type of event where you feel your best (fancy at a bar vs. casual in the park).
4.) Attend events solo.
You won’t have a safety net to depend on when attending events alone, which is precisely the reason it’s important to go solo. If your plan is to meet new people, a wing -man or -woman will distract you from taking the initiative of talking to those around you.
5.) Make one to three new connections.
Give yourself the mission of making three new professional connections, and your time frame is instantly set—once you’ve collected all three, or whatever number you choose, it’s time to split. Knowing this from the start will guide your interactions and help you find small wins along the way.
6.) Take breaks between conversations.
Just because the goal is meeting people doesn’t mean you have to interact the entire time. Take steps away from the crowd as needed to find some mental space. Who knows, you may even bump into fellow introverts (or your next connection) while taking a breath at the snack table.
7. ) Celebrate your victory.
Congratulate yourself on showing up and pursuing the intention that propelled you there. In the end, it doesn’t matter how many people you meet, but having the confidence to put yourself out there is a win on its own. Celebrate by unwinding in your favorite way—reading in the tub, anyone?