Less Creepy Networking?

Less Creepy Networking?

I have a confession to make–I hate networking events. I attend them because I need to, but I don’t like them. I am not a person who does well in crowds (unless it is a soccer game or concert-but then I don’t have to talk to people to enjoy those). It is not that I am socially inept, I think I can handle myself without embarrassing myself too much or too often. But I never know what to say or do or how to act.

If you are like me, you might want some tips, and this post by Jessica Hische may be of use. I think one of the most important factors to realize is the type of person you are: an introvert or an extrovert. It does affect how you go about networking events. Hische makes a solid point on this matter before getting to a healthy list of 10 tips:

Extroverts, with their endless energy for meeting people, excel in party environments but may have issues making a lasting impression or remembering the names of the people they meet. When you spend an entire night in a flurry of social pollination, you have few meaningful interactions. This isn’t a terrible thing as long as you treat parties as a form of social reconnaissance—many brief superficial meetings may lead to a few significant friendships / partnerships later.

If you’re an introvert, industry parties are not exactly your favorite places to be. It’s difficult to have in-depth one-on-one conversations (an area in which introverts often excel) in loud and crowded environments. I’m married to an introvert, so have come to understand their modus operandi quite well. Introverts aren’t anti-social, they just recharge their batteries through quiet contemplative activities. For introverts, parties, while fun, are exhausting and must be followed by decompression time. For extroverts, parties are decompression time….

Understanding yourself and your specific social needs is the first key to bettering your networking skills. If you’re an extrovert, use your skills to bumble-bee around parties, but when you meet someone that you have real friend-chemistry with, take time to get to know them and set up a one-on-one coffee date in the near future. Without these more personal and intimate exchanges later, the connections you make won’t take hold. If you’re an introvert, embrace your solo zen power sessions and know that crazy frenetic party environments can and do lead to hangouts that are more your speed.

Hische describes networking events as parties, perhaps that mindset might make the events less dreadful.

If you are in the Maryland area and see me at a networking event, please say hi. You might just save the event for us both.