5 Networking Tips For Shy People

There are many introverts who are forced to come out of their shell when entering into the business world. A recent study conducted showed that most lawyers and doctors fit into the introverted personality archetype. If you’re the sort of person who usually shies away from people unless it’s absolutely necessary to talk to them, you’re probably nervous about building connections in the workplace. The good news is that as long as you are willing to work hard and are approachable, people are usually more than willing to help you build your business. Here are 5 networking for shy people.

1. Take Things One Step at a Time
A lot of business professionals hide behind their desks and make phone calls when they are making connections and attempting sales. It’s important to start cold approaching people at networking events and gauging their responses.

Start small. A simple smile shows people you are friendly, open and approachable. Say hello, ask them a couple of questions to break the ice (such as “how are you today?”, “how’s your day going?”, “are you enjoying [event]?”). Be friendly and listen to what people are saying so you can pick up on any cues or leads they may give you during your conversation.

You can use a business partner as a ‘wingman’ to build the level of synergy needed to feel less nervous and keep the conversation moving, should you begin to lose your mojo.

2. Avoid Too Much Small Talk
Many people think that small talk is a necessary step in becoming more social, but the reality is that it’s not always required in the workplace. The main purpose of small talk in business situations is to build rapport. That rapport can be established through general business talk.

Of course you don’t want to immediately pounce on people with hard-hitting business talk and pushy sales pitches within the first 5 seconds, but too much small talk opens the door to various forms of awkwardness and cultural clashing that can make the situation feel uncomfortable for a shy person such as yourself.

In addition, most experienced business people will be able to read your intention on your face, so there’s no need to dance around the subject at hand. Schmooze them, don’t lose them.

3. Build a Routine Dialogue
Many people who seem very outgoing don’t actually have much to say. They may repeat the same or similar things to other people throughout their day. A routine dialogue creates the impression that your words are being improvised.

A business professional will likely have built up a huge mental library of canned phrases. More of these phrases and ideas will come to mind once you have experience approaching people. As the saying goes “practice makes perfect”.

4. Ask Questions
Sometimes a person will throw a comment your way that seems specifically meant to throw you off guard.

The best thing to do in this situation is ask a question. “Well, let me ask you this…” is a great way to start a reply. It gives you a brief moment to think of something to ask. It also puts them on the spot for a second. You can ask someone to discuss their comment or ideas further. Choose questions that will encourage deeper conversation rather than “yes” or “no” responses. Questions such as:

  • Why does/is….?
  • How does/can…?
  • Where does/is/can…?
  • Who does/ is/can…?

A social networking conversation doesn’t need to be a tug of war. People want to work with others that are like them. With some practice, you’ll be able to fall into a sort of ‘conversational alignment’ that will help shatter any feelings of uneasiness or shyness that could be felt.

5. Realise Almost Everyone is an Introvert
The reality is that most people are about as outgoing as the make their minds up to be. The people you are talking to may be as nervous as you are. There isn’t a single person on earth that is born a natural businessperson. For some it will come easier than it does for others, but you shouldn’t underestimate yourself and your abilities. Time and effort will give you a large number of reference points that will help you to feel more comfortable networking in groups large and small.

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