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If you’re an introvert, chances are you experience some anxiety when it comes to attending business functions, meeting new people, and networking.  Below are some tips that might be helpful.  Thanks to The Office Professional for granting me permission to repost an article to which I contributed. The article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue.

Networking 101 for Introverts: A no-excuses guide to making connections
By Beth Braccio Hering

Have you ever sat alone drinking punch at a conference while a colleague seemed to effortlessly work the room? While some people may be inherently more social, don’t sell yourself short by believing that an introverted nature automatically makes you a lousy networker.

“Many people think extroverts rule the networking world. This isn’t necessarily true,” says Patti DeNucci, author of The Intentional Networker: Attracting Powerful Relationships, Referrals & Results in Business. “Introverts can be great networkers because they are often good listeners and choose their words carefully.”

Ready to up your game? Try these tips:

Consider your timing. If entering a room that’s already buzzing leaves you weak-kneed, go early and converse with people as they arrive. If you must enter a crowd, approach someone standing off by himself. “Smile and introduce yourself,” DeNucci says. “Once you’ve exchanged names, ask a friendly, open-ended question, such as ‘What brings you to this event today?’ Then, let the conversation flow.”

Display confidence. Networking is hard enough without donning a frumpy suit. DeNucci recommends investing in up-to-date and industry-appropriate hair, makeup, attire, shoes and accessories. “This will boost your confidence in ways you can’t even imagine. Sure, we believe people should judge us based on what’s inside, but the fact remains that our
appearance precedes our personalities and speaks volumes about us.”

Practice. “Know how to respond to the question ‘So, what do you do?’ ” DeNucci says. “Think about how you will answer this question, but don’t go so far as to concoct and memorize a long-winded ‘elevator speech.’ “Other good things to practice include your handshake and looking others in the eye. Learn to say your name slowly and clearly so it’s easier for others to remember, and work on appropriate volume and pace of speech.

Follow up. Finally, don’t just file away an interesting person’s business card. Email is a godsend for introverts. Compose a thoughtful message about how much you enjoyed your conversation and add pertinent tidbits about yourself, your industry or an upcoming event. The receiver—perhaps also an introvert—will be glad you made the first move!

This article originally appeared in the May 2012 issue of The Office Professional and is reposted with their permission.