Are you an introvert? I find that many people I meet in the pet blogging world are. They huddle together at conferences, thankful when someone walks by with a pet so they can have an easy topic of conversation. “Wow, what a cute dog, what’s her name?” That is an ideal ice breaker and then you can share pet stories and talk about the pet blogging life. What happens though when you’re planning to go to a conference that may not be pet-centric? What will you use as an ice breaker?
If you’re an introvert these questions and many others may plague you, give you sweaty hands and cause sleepless nights prior to the conference. Here, now, are my tips for networking for introverts:
- It’s not all about you! My family reminds me of this when I say I am nervous to go somewhere or do something where there may be a lot of people. The entire world doesn’t revolve around me (shocking, I know!) and many of the other attendees are so wrapped up in their conversations or insecurities that they simply don’t pay any attention to you. Most everyone at a networking event is intent on his or her one-on-one conversations and are likely judging themselves — not you. If, however you find a person who is standing off by him or herself, walk over and strike up a conversation, they will thank you for it.
- But what will I say? You don’t want to talk politics or religion! Find an innocuous ice breaker like, “I really love that scarf, purse, tie, etc. where did you get it?” or “I am really looking forward to the keynote speaker, aren’t you?” or “This is my first time at this conference, do you have any tips?” If it’s that person’s first time, that will also break the ice.
- Ppssst will you be my friend? Remember, people are at networking events to make business connections and perhaps a friend or two. If you walk up and introduce yourself, they will likely welcome you with a handshake and a nod. They are at this event to meet people! You are one of those people, whom, they perhaps wanted to meet. I have only been to one networking event in the Rochester area in which I felt like an outsider. Yes, it was uncomfortable, but I powered through. I never attended again, although I should have told the organizer how uncomfortable I felt and how much of a clique it seemed a I imagine individuals who host networking events are hoping for great outcomes for the attendees.
- Head for the hills. Okay, let’s face it, not all networking events will be fruitful and not all conversations will be ones in which you want to participate. If you find yourself spending time with someone that truly isn’t someone you want to spend time with, you need to have an exit strategy. Don’t be too obvious, but if you need to extricate yourself from a conversation you can say, “Oh, I just saw Susie over there and I really want to say hello before the event starts. Can we reconnect later?” Offer your business card and head for the hills.
- Embrace the power of social media. Many networking events set up pages on social media prior to events and conferences; make sure you are visible there and joining in the conversations. It is a great way to get to know people before you even set foot at the conference hall. BlogPaws always has a lot of conversation in its Community prior to conferences and when you show up you already have a friend!
What do you do to make certain you get the most out of any conference you attend?
(Photo Shutterstock: Business man and dog)
Robbi Hess will be speaking on Time Management For The Blogger at the BlogPaws 2016 Conference. She is an award-winning author who works with clients on time management issues as well as content creation and content strategy at All Words Matter.