Networking for Introverts

Selfies With People I've Met at Conferences

I’m fortunate enough to work for a company that places a lot of value in conferences, continued education, and networking events. I have been to four WordCamps, a handful of Meetups, and KHM Travel Group’s Crystal Conference and Awards.

The hardest part of any conference is networking with others. It’s especially difficult if you consider yourself an introvert. Before I went to my first WordCamp in October of 2015, I read a ton of blog posts about how to get the most out of a conference as an introvert.

Some of the advice that I took away from the articles I read were:

Some friends also encouraged me to set a goal amount of people to meet at a given event. I found that it’s best to set the goal before you are actually at the event. That way your goal amount is based on total attendees, rather than your perceived ability to meet others. Don’t change your goal number!

So while I realize there are a lot of other resources out there on the subject, I still want to share some specific tips based on my experiences.

  • Repeat back everyone’s name after you meet them; don’t be afraid to ask for someone’s name again if you forget, but ask as soon as you realize you forgot.
  • Write down names & an interesting fact about everyone you meet in your notes in your phone. Before you go to sleep, scroll through the list to refresh your memory.
  • Ask people about things they are passionate about. If you can see their face light up when they talk about their pets, children, or a particular hobby/subject, ask them more about it.
  • Find time in between meeting people/attending trainings to just be alone. That way you can recharge and avoid getting overwhelmed. – Even if someone is asking where you’re going, don’t be afraid to tell them you just need a breather!
  • Don’t allow yourself to use others as a crutch, move away from anyone that you know you’ll end up talking one-on-one with. – A lot of the articles I’ve read say to have a “wingman,” but I think it can be limiting. It’s good to have someone you trust and can talk to, but make sure you aren’t just blocking everyone else out.
  • The most important thing is to be genuine. If you’re not used to initiating conversations, it might feel like you’re acting, but eventually it will come more naturally.