Social events, business gatherings, and even simple parties get introverts all worked up - the idea of being in a room full of strangers is just too overwhelming. There’s the fear of awkwardness, dead air, or even obvious lack of connection.
But socialising is a must, especially when working in a competitive place like Singapore, and success is driven by who you know as much as what you know.
There are many ways you can work on your nerves when meeting new people and strengthening your ties. It’s not an overnight process, you’ll need to take small steps until you get comfortable in being more outgoing and ready to take your networking skills to the next level.
PreparePreparation is key! Depending on what event you’re attending, you can try and suss out the guest list beforehand to get your head in the right space. Think of questions you can ask of key people, and do some research about their companies and what’s been happening. But if you don’t have time for that (let’s be honest, most of us don’t) then just prepare general topics of conversation that would suit multiple people. Are you up to play with what’s been happening in your industry? What are the big news stories around at the moment, locally and globally? If you’re informed, you’ll always have ways to make conversations.
Bring a wingmanIt’s always nice to have a friend. In networking and business situations, having a colleague beside you can help you feel more confident and relaxed to join conversations and meet people. They can introduce you to others and act as backup for any chats gone awry. Just make sure not to use that person as a total crutch - take a few opportunities to go off on your own and make your own way!
Focus on your target and relax!You know those people at events who just go from person to person, introducing themselves and handing out and collecting business cards? Yeah, don’t be the guy. While he gets the business cards he wants, he doesn’t make any meaningful connections and is only remembered for being “that guy who just wanted my contact”. Stay focused on why you’re there (to make connections) but relax enough to actually build relationships, share stories and discuss things with new people. Interpersonal communication is about sharing, so don’t focus on what could go wrong - just go with it!
Exit strategicallyEnd your conversations on a good note by telling them how nice it was to meet them, and that you’d love to catch up with them in the future. Try and set your next meeting, exchange contact information, and remember to thank them for their time.
PracticePractice makes perfect, so don’t stop trying these tips until talking to others becomes second nature. If all goes well, by your third or fourth networking adventure, you’ll feel those nerves and stress melt away!
Check out our Career Centre for more great workplace tips!