We all know how important networking is as part of an overall marketing or job search strategy. But for some, the prospect of a “meet and greet” is incredibly unappealing. Here are some words of wisdom from Ruth Carter of The Carter Law Firm, excerpted from the “Introvert’s Survival Guide for Networking Events,” which appeared in the September 2012 issue of In Sight, published by the Oregon Attorney Assistance Program.
- If the event room is loud and crowded, head for the hallway. You will find your fellow introverts there, enjoying their space and speaking at a normal volume for conversation.
- If the event has an educational component, go to it. It will give you a smaller group to start with and a basis for starting conversations.
- Go to events for business professionals, not just for lawyers. Lawyer groups can lead to referrals, but business groups will put you directly in front of potential clients.
- Attend groups and events that interest you. When you’re comfortable, you’ll be more effective at networking. When you go to events that interest you, you’ll be more likely to meet people who are like-minded and more likely to hire you.
- Don’t be afraid to branch out beyond the traditional networking events. Some networking groups do more unusual things like go-carts instead of happy hours. You can also network at sci-fi conventions, hiking groups, and book clubs.
- Go to lunch and breakfast events. You might be more comfortable talking to people over a meal with your hands occupied with silverware. These events tend to be smaller, too.
- Give yourself permission to leave early. It’s okay to set a goal for the number of contacts you want to make and leave once you achieve it.
What good advice!
If you are beginning to build your network and ramp up your efforts, try one or two (or all seven, please!) of Ruth’s tips. As your confidence grows, so will your comfort level with new “meet and greet” events.