I am not a gregarious person, but at the same time, I’m a strong believer in the power of networking. That’s why I’ve developed a few habits and tactics to make my networking efforts easier. I’ll share them with you in this post.
1. Make full use of the internet and social networks
The Internet offers you many opportunities to network without necessarily having to meet people face to face. If you enjoy writing, you can start a blog. Blogging is a great way to meet interesting people (some of whom can become friends) and expand your contact base.
Social networks like LinkedIn or Twitter are also great for networking. I’ve used the “people search” feature of LinkedIn to find people that I hadn’t heard from in years. Twitter is also very helpful. You can do a Twitter search for a topic you’re interested in and start following people whoes tweets you find interesting. You can then visit their blogs, leave comments and start conversations. If you get to know them well, you can then ask them to join your LinkedIn network.
2. Arrive early to meet ups
Whenever I go to a meeting, I make it a habit to arrive very early, usually when only a couple of people are there. It is much easier to meet people this way than to come in late and try to break into a large group where conversations have already started.
3. Volunteer to help organize events
This is a great way to meet people. One of the best tasks you can volunteer for is to work at the entrance booth of a meeting or event. This will mean you can greet everyone who comes in and strike conversations early and easily.
4. Do something unusual
You don’t need to dye your hair purple or introduce yourself with a song to strike a conversation. Something I’ve tried successfully several times is to write my Twitter handle instead of my name on my name tag. People will say “Oh, great, you’re on Twitter. I’m on Twitter too… let me write that down so I can follow you”. You can also try having a cool or unusual business card to stand out from the crowd.
5. Volunteer to do a presentation
This may sound counter intuitive since most people fear public speaking. However, introverts may feel more comfortable speaking about something that they can prepare in advance, and having an audience that is ready to listen, rather than by talking to random people from scratch.
If you do a presentation people will also approach you afterward to ask you questions or give you their business card. Being a presenter also makes it easier for them to remember you when you contact them in the future.