The Ambitionista

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A Guide to Networking for the Shy Girl

This article is Part of Business 101: The Career Crucials series.

If there are people out there who say they love to walk into a room filled with strangers who they need to meet and impress in minutes, I’m politely calling them out. However, I agree that for some, it can be uber-daunting. If you feel especially ill at ease, you don’t need to force yourself to channel Robin Williams. Just take some deep breaths and remember the following:

networking feel awkward

  • Prep. Make a mental note of conversation starters. Something as simple as “Hello, I’m Heidi. What brought you to this event?” is great.  Don’t forget that the starter doesn’t always have to be business-related, or even a question. Starting with “Hello, I’m Heidi. I saw your dress from across the room and just had to ask you where you got it because it’s fantastic on you,” not only breaks the ice but also make someone feel good.
  • Find out who will be there. Find out ahead of time who might be at the event that you want to meet and then prep questions specifically for them. Questions or comments that are specific to the person really emphasizes your interest in them. For example, “I was hoping to meet you. I’m so interested in how you first came up with the idea for self-parking cars.” Flattery in the form of interest and admiration for what someone does goes a long way.

how to network

  • Meet people out of your comfort zone. Once you arrive, don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with solo attendees or small groups. If you’re with friends or with other people you just met, introduce yourselves to someone who looks shy (or even bored). Give everyone a chance and a positive attitude, this makes for good vibes all around.
  • Listen. Remember – people love to talk about themselves and, consequently, love a good listener.

how to network

Set Realistic Goals. That being said, you may feel tempted to stick with one friendly person all evening or feel stressed that you have to “meet everyone!”

So, set a goal, such as three people.  Once you’ve achieved that goal, relax and call it a successful night. You may even find that when you’re more relaxed, you end up making even more friends and acquaintances. Now, pat yourself on the back for your success, head home and snuggle up to a Netflix binge of “Game of Thrones.” Now there’s a stressful networking world.

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24 Responses

  1. This is what I need.. Exactly what I need.. I am an extremely shy person, but there are times when I really need to face a crowd. During those times, I feel like a flower melting under the sun.. I really need to improve with my social skills. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. LJ

    I’ve finally overcome my shyness and fear of meeting people, thanks to blog sites like yours that help uphold the confidence of women and share tips and pieces of advice on how to deal with people and be social. Thanks to much, Heidi!

  3. Taylor

    I’m one of those shy girls in the business. I dunno which way to go when a party begins. This article of yours just gave me so many ideas and tips, for that I am grateful to you Heidi.

  4. Preparing before heading out to an event is the best tip I can suggest. Prepare yourself, do some research and be comfortable around people, those are the networking tips I could share since those were what I usually do.

  5. Patrice Emily

    I know what you mean about the stress of having to meet everyone else in a party especially if you’re the one who hosted the entire event. I’ve experienced that once and I was too cautious and worried that someone might be left out of conversation or feel out of place.

  6. When I go to social events, I want to be sure that I know one or two people there so it’s easy to chat up with them. I’ve got no problem making new friends and acquaintances, if there’s someone I see who needs an ice breaker, I’ll approach her and help break the ice.

  7. Valeria M.

    Most of the time, I am the “that person over there who looks shy” in a party. I tend to blend with the wallpaper and sometimes I want to just hide there until the party is done. I’m really not much into partying except when my boss and colleagues oblige me. I ain’t good in conversation at all.

  8. Gabrielle

    My goodness, I can see you are the expert in chatting up or opening a conversation. I could learn a lot from you. Thanks for the guide!

  9. Wilma C

    I’m not much of a talker, really, so striking up a conversation in a party would be a dilemma to me. But usually, if I get invited to a party and I know who the invited guests are, I do a random check of them through their social media accounts, especially when I do not personally know the person and then get to know them when I see them at the event.

  10. Norma Jean

    Great tips! I don’t have any marketing tips to share, but I’m grateful to have come up with this article of yours and learn a lot from you.

  11. Ruthie

    I love all your tips here, really helpful for someone like me who not only feels awkward most of the time, I also feel out of place when in a crowd.

  12. MJ Walters

    These are great tips, Heidi. It’s always best to come to battle prepared with weapons and all, as the saying goes. As much as possible, when I go to an event or invited to a party, I make sure I am prepared and I know most of the people arriving so I know who to talk to and who to approach with caution.

  13. Claire

    My friends say I’m great in chatting up with friends and making new acquaintances. I’d say it’s an acquired taste. I’ve been meeting & dealing with a lot of people with my line of work (social event planning) but when I was just a beginner, I also have those goosebumps and nerve shattering moments when I have to talk to someone important or confide with a problem that I am unable to find the solution to. It’s all my mind, as it happened, because once I set my eyes on the price, I knew I’m in for the long haul.

  14. Marie

    Thank you for this post, Heidi, I actually don’t have the nerve to start a conversation, much more to attend an event full of crowds. I guess I really am a bit of a loner.

  15. When I am on a party or event, what I do to gain more followers and impress possible partners, is to listen intently to their stories and show enthusiasm in their work. Gotta hone those listening skills every now and then, to prove to them that you value their opinions and critique.

  16. Kitty Gurl

    Great networking tips! I actually do most of what you mentioned above, but one that I often do is making a bee-line to someone who is alone when I attend a party or luncheons. I dunno why, but I feel more at ease if I talk to someone who is by himself or herself only. It’s an opportunity, as you’ve said, to meet new people and hook ’em up in your network.

  17. Magenta Jacobs

    I wish I have your confidence to be able to strike a conversation in a crowd. That’s a great advantage when socializing and networking. Too bad, I tend to shy away when I get to see a lot of people, although I’m okay if there’s only a few present.

  18. Clarisse

    My best networking tip would have to be like the one you suggested – just being a good listener. Everyone loves a good listener, someone who wouldn’t judge but would stay there and listen and take it all in, so that the other person will feel appreciated..

  19. Thanks for sharing this Heidi.. I actually haven’t done any networking lately due to tack of opportunity, but when this happens, I’ll take note of your advice and let you know :)

  20. Serena

    I meant to say, the sample conversation starter “Hello, I’m Heidi. I saw your dress from across …” is really a classy and cool way to start up the crowd. I like it. Thanks for sharing this.

    Me again, Serena

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