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Let’s be honest, networking can be a strange experience for most anyone, but if you’re the type of person who identifies as an introvert, you probably understand this struggle better than anyone else. Just the thought of meeting new people at a networking event can be enough to make your stomach flutter. I can relate to that feeling of dread because I’m also an introvert and have had to build a complete mental plan when attending big networking events and trade shows.
However, there are so many benefits to networking and attending conferences that it’s worth the embarrassment. Networking events can help you foster relationships in hours that might take years online to develop. When I forced myself to attend events, I was able to forge new strategic partnerships and even create lasting friendships.
Creating an action plan before attending the conference is key to a successful networking experience. Here are my top five tips I use whenever I attend a conference:
1. Create a specific goal for the number of people you want to attend the event
If the event is for two days, don’t overdo it and expect to serve 50 people. As introverts, we prefer to have fewer deep and meaningful interactions. I typically set an intention to meet three to five amazing people every day that I think will become long-term connections. If I only connect with two that day, but they were meaningful conversations, I don’t blame myself for a missed opportunity. On the contrary, I reward myself for having the courage to talk to two strangers.
Related: 6 Ways Introverts Can Avoid Conference Shyness
2. Break the ice before participating
Once you’ve set a specific goal to meet others at the conference, do some initial research online and send each person an introduction via email or text before meeting them in person. Generally, I will review all information on the conference website, including specific booth numbers.
In addition, I research participants’ profiles on LinkedIn to understand their backgrounds and interests. To break the ice, I always create a custom video and send it to email or via LinkedIn messaging.
Here’s an example of my video script “Hey Lisa, I’m looking forward to connecting with you at the National Cybersecurity Conference next week. After seeing your LinkedIn profile, I’m even more impressed with your commitment to cybersecurity. healthcare. Would love a 15 minute chat at your booth #225 to learn more about your 2023 initiatives and share our current strategy for cybersecurity in the healthcare space. Do we need to schedule an appointment or can I just stop by and introduce myself?” In most cases, cold calls, emails and messages receive very few responses. However, the video messages I send have a 70% success rate due to the personalized approach and immediacy of the next conference.
3. Come prepared with three key points to share in conversations
When meeting people at networking events, make sure you come prepared with ideas for what you want to share. Sometimes you may only have five minutes, so treat it like an elevator ride. Consider the three critical points you would like them to remember. One of those points should be a compelling story or statement that leaves them wanting to know more about you and your business. Here’s an example of a three-point approach. “Lisa, thanks for taking a few moments today at the cybersecurity conference. Two years ago, our team cracked the code to eliminate 98% of ransomware threats within 8 seconds of detection. We’d love for you to try out our software and see if it can. be an addition to your security process. How is your team dealing with ransomware threats with your potential customers? This can help set the stage for meaningful dialogue and get the conversation off to a flying start.
Related: Even Introverts Can Stand Out On The Net By Following These Steps
4. The person who talks the most loses the deal
The saying that most people prefer to talk about themselves or their interests is true. Therefore, I tend to focus on 70% of the conversation being conducted by them. As they chat, I make mental notes of anything that is interesting or relevant and can be used to respond with purpose. In fact, I rarely prepare a complete conversation agenda because the agenda is improvised during the conversation. This way, it allows the discussion to be authentic and spontaneous rather than rehearsed with canned responses. This can help you stay focused and engaged with the actual topics being discussed, as opposed to the topics you assumed would be discussed.
5. Always find your anchor
One of my first goals at any conference is to find my anchor. An anchor is someone you can talk to during the conference and they will help support presentations or make suggestions about specific conference workshops. I rarely meet the anchor before the event. However, I always know when I’ve found my anchor because they’re easy to connect with and can open doors to situations that might be uncomfortable for an introvert. Finding my anchor is essential, or else I might get really uncomfortable and I’ll either hide in a corner or go back to my hotel room. Honestly, I’ve done both many times at conferences.
Networking pays off and can help you open many doors in your business. For introverts, connecting and networking in large crowds can always feel a little strange. However, with a few key tips, you’ll find that networking can be less stressful and more fun. Good luck!