The holidays are a fantastic time to get out of the house and do some networking. As the year comes to an end, you'll likely be able to attend a wide range of professional and personal social events in which you can reconnect with friends, family, classmates and colleagues. Don't miss out on these opportunities. Not only are such get togethers a great time to socialize and have some fun, but also a chance to network, especially if you're on the job hunt. Of course, if you're shy or introverted, the idea of networking may fill you with an immediate sense of anxiety. However, you can't let a little fear prevent you from ceasing opportunities. This practice doesn't have to be nerve-wracking, here are five tips for networking if you're an introvert:
1. Dress to impress
It's easy to feel confident when you dress the part. Make sure that when you attend a professional event, you take the time to clean up and look your best. If you're wearing clothes that don't fit well or that are worn out from lots of use, it may affect your confidence more than you realize. If you're planning on doing a lot of networking this holiday season, consider going out and investing in some new clothes so that you can enter the room feeling sharp.
2. Be mindful of eating and drinking
In general, networking events are a great place to get a free drink and some tasty snacks, but going overboard will likely end up working against you. It's no big deal if you need a cocktail to get loosened up, but if you're downing them all night it'll make it hard to follow the conversation or act appropriately. After all, most of us have had a night where we get embarrassingly drunk and regret it the next day. Try not to do this in a professional setting, as it will likely be detrimental to your job search. In regards to food, there's no problem taking what's offered, but don't stand next to buffet or lumber after servers to hawk hours d'oeuvres. Avoid eating too much when you're in the middle of a conversation, as you won't be able to participate while you're chewing.
3. Practice talking about yourself
You don't need to have a speech memorized, but you should be comfortable talking about yourself during networking events. Before you attend, come up with some talking points and practice your elevator pitch a few times so that you won't be put on the spot when you have to do it in person. If you have a friend who's going to the event with you, work on talking about yourself beforehand with him or her.
4. Know when to take breaks
Don't feel obligated to stay for the entire duration of a networking event or other social gathering. If meeting people wears you out, there's no reason to try and force yourself to remain social for the entire time. Take breaks to go outside and get some fresh air or leave when you start feeling socially fatigued.
5. Never dismiss anyone
Don't make the mistake of thinking anyone isn't worth talking to. It's common, perhaps particularly for young professionals, to beeline for the person in the room that may be able to help them out. Take your time and work the room, and don't brush people off that aren't directly related to your job hunt. After all, you never know how people are connected.