How Organic Networking Helps Introverts Grow Their Network

Many people avoid networking because they are introverted or just shy, but a much better idea is to simply avoid the "artificial" networking opportunities like cocktail-hour mingles. You can get much better results anyway by networking organically through activities.

When you are working with other people you naturally build strong connections as a side effect of the co-operation, simply by being a good team player, colleague, employee or manager. If you have any sort of job you are already building a network in your workplace and environment even though you are probably not aware of it. You can greatly increase the reach and effectiveness of this networking by adding other activities to your daily job. These activities could be other projects in your workplace or related to your work, like organizing a work event. They can also be activities outside of work.

Probably the most effective of these outside activities is to volunteer for non profits that involve something that looks like work, perhaps organizing events or addressing social problems. You don't need to do anything special; simply do your volunteer work as well as you can and the network comes as a side effect, without any special effort or any mastery of mingle techniques or small talk.

Organic networking through activities like non profits can help you build strong connections with people who work in a broad range of activities. This diversity can be very important since it greatly expands the reach of your network. Sometimes, though, you need to network in a specific field or region, perhaps preparing for a career change. In these cases you might need to attend specific conferences and meetings.

When you are at a conference in the role of simple attendee it can be difficult to connect with strangers. One easy way to work around this difficulty is to get involved in the organization of the event in some way. If you are a good speaker then you could try to get a speaking opportunity at the event. Otherwise you can always get involved by volunteering to help the organizers. There is nearly always need for more help, even if it is just to take car of live tweeting of sessions -- something many event organizers neglect. This gives you a chance to get to know the other people on the organization team who can then connect you to other people at the event.
Getting involved in events is usually the easiest way for introverts to network at events but sometimes there is no time to arrange that and you have to mingle like everyone else. Luckily there are also some simple methods that make this easier, too. First of all, to make the mingling easy make sure that you are one of the first to arrive. If you are first to arrive someone else practically has to talk to you. Apart from that you should plan ahead, find out who is going to be there and look for a few people who you would like to talk to. Try talking to speakers, organizers and people who ask questions. These are all people who like talking to people, especially if you have prepared and have a sensible question. In any case plan to connect with one, two or three people. Having a few good new connections is much more useful than collecting dozens of cards of people you didn't really interact with.

Lectures, Workshops, Coaching and Writing

Andrew Hennigan also provides useful and interesting lectures and interactive workshops about professional networking, always tailored for the specific audience and including support for one-to-one coaching after the session. You can contact him at speaker@andrewhennigan.com or 0046 73 089 44 75.

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