Attending conferences and meetups as an introvert can be difficult. Some seem like natural networkers, yet for others, networking can feel like torture. There are so many people and it’s always the same, inane conversations. So, what do you do? How about the [insert sportsball team name]? Great weather, huh?
I’ve discovered a few tricks that work for me at networking events.
- Lower my expectations/goals. Instead of trying to meet as many people as I can, I’ll try to connect with just one or two. For some people, it’s a numbers game. For me, I’d rather connect with one instead of grabbing a stack of cards.1Actually, I don’t like collecting cards. I search on LinkedIn immediately, in their presence, confirming I have the right person. Then I send an invite with a personalized note that informs both of us how we met, “Hey Ashton, it was great talking to you about Onewheels at the Snapshot conference.”
- Learn some good questions to spark a conversation. I’m more likely to enjoy the resulting conversation instead of talking about the weather or sportsball.
- Find someone that looks more uncomfortable than I feel and go talk to them. Of course, if they’re really uncomfortable, I need to be ready to back off, too.
- Don’t meet anyone. Instead, I’ll find a comfy chair somewhere around where others are and read a book or blog by one of the speakers. It’s better than leaving and gives me something to talk about. Maybe later, I’ll feel like meeting someone. In other words, pace myself.
Have you tried any of these? What works for you?
Photo credit: Rick Turoczy. “A little ‘welcome to Portland’ gift for all of my fellow @StartupChamps introverts, designed to indicate how full our interaction and socializing batteries are at any given moment.” Used with permission.
- 1Actually, I don’t like collecting cards. I search on LinkedIn immediately, in their presence, confirming I have the right person. Then I send an invite with a personalized note that informs both of us how we met, “Hey Ashton, it was great talking to you about Onewheels at the Snapshot conference.”
2 responses to “So, what’s an introvert like you doing at a meetup like this?”
What a great post . I’m very much the edge person at conferences, although it helps if I’m representing a team and I give myself the challenge of bringing back a story for that group.
re: sportsball — I think you are using it too crudely to filter out your pplz and dismiss 80% of the room. Imagine the world divided between ppl of Action and ppl of Thought. IMO sportsball is all about Action types and lots of sales and exec leaders at conferences have a big chunk of Action in their makeup. Sportsball narratives are Action’s attempt at Thought, an olive branch. You can find out a lot about an Action person by how they process sportsball stories and at least filter another level deeper, no?
Shelby, I like your way of thinking about sportsball people. It makes sense, especially in light of all the sportsball analogies used in business. I’ve looked at sportsball as a spectator thing, not an action thing, at best, a vicarious action thing. I need to rethink. Thanks!