Networking events are great resources to further your business career and to meet like-minded individuals who have the potential to become new business partners. However, if you’re an introvert, you might be having trouble finding the courage to attend an event full of strangers. Make it easier on yourself with these tips for overcoming in-person networking awkwardness.
Leave the Phone in Your Pocket
It’s easy to pull out your phone and stare at the screen when you aren’t comfortable talking with new people. However, this makes you unapproachable and shows other guests that you aren’t as interested in what they have to say. Refrain from pulling out your phone, and instead fill your time by speaking to new people.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
When you ask a yes or no question, it can only lead to one of those two answers and make it difficult to carry on a conversation. Instead, ask questions that will lead to more questions, furthering the conversation. Keep the conversation flowing with open-ended questions, and they may lead you to answers you’ve been seeking regarding your business.
Tweak Your Communication Preference
This may be hard to change, but you could meet more people if you tweak the way you communicate. Think about how you present yourself to others; body language, posture, tone of voice, and gestures. It may seem awkward at first, but fake it ‘til you make it—you’ll surprise yourself with a successful outcome of networking with new business professionals in your market.
Try Informal Settings
A networking event in a formal setting puts more pressure on the guests to communicate and be professional. If this worries you, don’t be afraid to find informal events, like business golf networking events.A casual setting encourages light conversation that can lead to business talk, networking, and bonding with other professionals in a relaxed environment.
Set a Goal
To overcome in-person networking awkwardness, arrive at the event with a goal or outcome in mind. Doing this allows you to focus on what you want to get out of the event, and why you chose to go there in the first place. Working towards small goals makes the tasks to get there less daunting.
Things will get easier once you’ve gone to a couple of events. Be patient with yourself and practice your questions and greetings in the mirror before you leave to ease some tension. Networking in your career is vital to expanding your business, so getting comfortable in those settings is a must.