There’s no denying that networking plays a crucial role in building professional relationships and growing your small business. However, for introverted women – myself included – arriving at networking events and making meaningful connections can feel incredibly daunting. We hide in a corner or gravitate to people that we already know. We’re also very aware of how important our attendance is, but how draining we’re going to find it. I totally get you! But fear not! This blog is here to help you to develop strategies that play to your strengths, then hopefully you will see that networking for introverts isn’t as scary as it seems.

1) Own your introversion

As an introvert, it’s important to acknowledge and own your natural tendencies and embrace your strengths. We introverts thrive in quieter, more intimate settings where we don’t feel compelled to try to emulate (or hide behind) our extroverted friends. Instead, own the fact that your strengths lies in deep listening, thoughtful reflection, and forming meaningful relationships at an individual level.

2) Prepare and set goals

An important stage in your networking for introverts strategy is the preparation, and setting clear goals for yourself. As introverts, ‘just turning up’ adds to our stress! So instead, outline what you hope to achieve, whether it’s making a specific number of new connections, exploring potential collaborations, or simply gaining industry insights. The sense of purpose that this creates will build your confidence.

3) Start with small events

Instead of diving straight in to a mass gathering, start small. These events provide a less overwhelming environment and allow you to get to know people on a deeper level. Great examples are things like workshops or seminars when you can simply start to chat to whoever you’re sitting next to. I discovered the WIBN network earlier this year and the typical number of attendees at the in-person events is perfect for me for exactly this reason.

4) Listen effectively

When it comes to networking for introverts, you probably find that we have a natural inclination for listening, rather than jumping into conversation. So again – own it. Instead of worrying about what to say next, focus on actively listening to others. Ask thoughtful questions, show genuine interest, and provide space for others to share their stories and insights. This empathetic approach will leave a lasting impression.

5) Head online

In today’s digital age, there are plenty of opportunities online for networking for introverts, offering a more comfortable space to connect with others. Social media channels like LinkedIn are a great tool to share your knowledge and insights, and many organisations still offer networking via Zoom or other similar platforms. So if you’re feeling nervous, why not start online and as your confidence builds, you can venture out to face to face events when you’re ready.

6) Seek out one-on-one interactions

As introverts, we know that networking is important, but we definitely thrive in one-on-one or small group settings. Take advantage of this by meeting people for coffee and get to know them one on one. Not only does this kind of setting provide a more relaxed environment, but it also allows you to be yourself and in doing so, form genuine connections as well as facilitating more in-depth discussion.

7) Find a networking buddy

Networking, for introverts, can feel very overwhelming, so why not go along with a friend? As people you know which groups or events they attend and go along too. You could even arrange to arrive together. You can support and motivate each other as you go – but a word of warning, don’t use this tip as an excuse to hide behind someone else!

And afterwards?

Don’t forget to recharge your batteries. Networking events can be very draining when you’re an introvert, so remember to give yourself some quiet time to relax and decompress after the event. You can read more about my self-care strategies for introverts here.

Remember – networking for introverts doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it first appears. The key is to approach it in a way that works for you, rather than trying to imitate the more extrovert among us. Follow the tips above and tweak them to make them your own. You absolutely can build a strong professional network that supports your growth and success, and remember, it’s about quality over quantity when it comes to connections. Take things one conversation at a time, let your authentic self shine, and go for it.