So, what’s an introvert like you doing at a meetup like this?

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.

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.