networking

A Better Way to Introduce Your Friends at Parties

Sometimes I let my vocation boss around my self-esteem.

When I’m satisfied with my work, I feel like a rockstar. When I’m working under my potential or my strengths and assets aren’t recognized, I can feel like a speck of lint.

I’m not what I do, but especially living in DC area, what you do seems almost more important than who you are. You start to feel this way when at parties you’re introduced as, “Sally the the Social Media Coordinator,” “Joe who works in public health,” or when, right out of the gate you’re asked “So what do you do?” Sure I’m guilty of this too. It’s a great conversation starter, but writer Cadence Turpin reminds us resumes are just paper, people are more than what they do, and she offers:

 A Better Way to Introduce Your Friends at Parties

In an effort to continually remind ourselves we are more than our work, perhaps we should even start introducing ourselves this way.

How Your Clothes Could Score You a Job

dresssuccess_sm

Remember those networking tips for introverts we talked about last week? I took my own advice and hauled my fanny into D.C. for a media networking event last night. My inner hermit grumbled the whole drive, but I reminded him that I only had to make one or two connections, keep people talking, and it was A-OK to leave early. Plus, I was wearing a bright new dress and my most confidence-inspiring ankle booties–I was ready!

If there is one tip I left off of my list, it’s wear something that makes you feel good.

There are three reasons for this:

  1. If you look good, you feel good.
  2. If you feel good, you’re more confident.
  3. And if you’re more confident, people notice.

I could add a fourth reason too: your personal style can even break the ice! That’s exactly how I met my first connection, and then my second connection, and my third. One even snatched me an hors d’oeuvre as a “best-dressed award.”

After an hour an a half, I had made two solid connections, recruited one person to join my organization’s membership, and exited gracefully. My inner hermit was pleased to be home by 8:30.

Success? I’d say so. I’ll have to write TJMaxx a thank you note.

Networking for Introverts: Part 2

On Monday, we covered 5 networking tips for introverts. Now that you’ve had a chance to internally process that information (and maybe even practice it!), here are 5 more tips:

Reframe networking. Think less about making business contacts and more about connecting with the people you encounter every day. Everyone is a resource, and I mean everyone. I once mentioned to my dental receptionist that I was looking for a new job. We’d only had a few previous friendly encounters, but a month later, she remembered our conversation and called me with a lead.

Offer something first. One of the simplest ways to get others to open up, warm up to you, or just plain notice you is to offer a token. Skip the business card—everyone’s doing it. Compliments, beauty, sports, or professional tips are all great tokens. Now that you have their attention, go ahead and slip them your card.

Set small goals. Whether it’s meeting 3 new people, having a 2 drink maximum, or making 1 great connection, setting small goals eliminates feeling overwhelmed by the wouldsshoulds, and coulds. Once you reach your quota, you can plan your exit!

Give yourself permission to escape. We all have our limits and there’s no rule saying you have to close down the networking event. It’s OK to leave early. However, if you’re hosting an event and can’t get away, give yourself permission to take a breather on the balcony, in a bathroom stall, or in your car. Come back when you’re recharged.

Stay sane, not safe. You’re not going to like this one, but a key to successful networking is to get out of your comfort zone. Just make sure you stay within your sanity zone—scared, but not paralyzed is the sweet spot. (Small goals, remember?) Maybe just showing up is all you can handle, but as you push your limits, your boundaries will expand. I like this advice from Matt Damon’s character in We Bought a Zoo, “Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage. Just literally 20 seconds of embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

Thanks to my friend Amanda at Echoing Footstep for suggesting this topic. Check out her blog, then come back Friday as we wrap up our conversation on the awesome power of introverts!

Is there something your want me to write about? Let me know in the comments!

Networking for Introverts: Part 1

networking

It was an introvert’s nightmare: Me, backed into the corner of a tiny kitchen, smashed between a garbage can and the refrigerator as a crowd of strangers circled in front of me. I’d just moved to the city and this was my first solo networking party. I felt awkward, exhausted, and intimidated. Clearly, “working the crowd” was not my strength.

If the thought of networking sends you running for the nearest exit—stop right there! There is a way to work a room that doesn’t drain the life out of you. And it starts by being your awesome, introverted self! Here how:

Find one connection. Susan Cain is gently shaking the world though her book QuietThe Power of Introverts. She suggests this rule of thumb for networking events, “One genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.” Don’t make networking a numbers game. Instead, leverage your introverted skill of genuinely connecting deeply with a few. Suddenly follow-ups are fun social events instead of professional obligations.

Befriend social media. Introverts, this medium is your networking jam! Use Facebook and/or LinkedIn to follow up with your connections. Don’t forget to browse their contacts to see who else you might know. Familiarizing yourself with the faces of your industry will help turn the concept of networking from monster to mere shadow, and even help you prepare some personalized questions. People will be impressed with what you know about them. Or creeped out. Definitely one of those things.

Find a wing buddy. Who is a better spokesperson for you than your pals? A great wing buddy can open the door to a great date, so why not for your next professional opportunity? Hint: Extroverts are often skilled conversation starters and make great wing buddies!

Listen. People love to talk and you love to listen. As an introvert, your ears are your greatest asset. Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People suggests taking advantage of this strength by focusing on common interests and asking thoughtful follow-up questions. Don’t worry about not making a strong impression; it you keep someone talking long enough, they’ll likely leave the conversation remembering you as a great conversationalist. Easy peasy!

Mind your Q&As. If there is one thing most introverts love, it’s being prepared. If you’re nervous about awkward moments and blanking out under social pressure, prepare a few icebreakers ahead of time. Better yet, memorize your personal elevator pitch!

That’s a lot of info, but we’re not done yet! Come back Wednesday for 5 more tips.