"The latest statistics show that a-third to a half of all Americans are introverts,” says Susan Cain, author of "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking." As a professional women’s organization and women business owners, we must harness our introversion and ensure that we use the power of connections to advance our careers and entrepreneurial ventures.
We all know the critical importance of networking and its value in conference settings, but many of us fail to optimize this opportunity because of our natural aversion as introverts. By identifying that you are an introvert, you can work to learn tactics to improve your networking. Introverts are not anti-social or shy. These words are used interchangeably but have very different meanings. "Shyness is about the fear of negative judgment, whereas introversion is simply about a preference for a minimally stimulating environment.” Cain added.
They always say that the first step is to admit that you have a problem. In your case, admit that you are an introvert. Here are some signs that you are an introvert.
During one-on-one meetings you are able to provide your best thoughts as group settings can be demanding for introverts. You are in your comfort zone and the conversation will be more engaging and beneficial. Avoid becoming overwhelmed by conference crowds. Find someone who is alone, introduce yourself and don’t fear the awkward silence or disinterest by the other party. After the first couple of introductory questions, ask more open-ended questions that will allow you to learn more about the person you are speaking with and identify points of interest and commonality. “ What challenges are you facing in your business?”, “Why did you start your business?” What are you looking forward to learning at this event?”, are some questions that you can use.
In the era of social and digital media, conference organizers usually provide some way for conference attendees to connect before and after the event. Reach out via LinkedIn, Twitter and even Facebook to people who will be attending conferences or networking events and let them know you are looking forward to meeting them and why. This allows the in-person connection to be more relaxed and less intimidating. You can also set up coffee or lunch dates on the day of the event. A quick message saying “Would like to chat with you for 15 minutes over lunch (or coffee)” makes all of the difference when you are an introvert and allows you to do it on your own terms.
If you have already connected prior to the conference, research the person you will be meeting with or hope to connect with. Be familiar with the business they are in and what you would like to gain from the connection. Think of the kinds of questions you would like to ask and be sure to keep them simple and open.