12 Powerful Networking Tips for Introverts at Virtual and IRL Events [Infographic]

Networking tips for introverts

Looking for networking tips for introverts? You’ve come to the right place.

As an introvert myself, I’d like to begin by acknowledging: traditional networking sucks. It can feel like an awkward, and inorganic experience – especially if you’re someone who isn’t exactly thrilled at the idea of being in a room (in-person or virtually) full of strangers. If you’re reading this, you probably feel similarly.

I remember the last networking event I went to. I was standing in the corner, trying to hide while simultaneously hoping that some kind stranger would rescue me with a smile and an invitation to start a conversation. I remember hyping myself up, trying to think of icebreakers, looking for a group of people I could join without making things too awkward. Are you cringing right now? I am.

Networking at in-person events

While traditional networking at in-person events felt difficult, it was even more challenging in the virtual context. It was nearly impossible to form valuable relationships when there were such few organic opportunities to have meaningful exchanges with other attendees.

Participating in in-session chats (I’m from snowy Montreal – brrr!) seldom led to a connection. Perusing the participant lists was great, but ultimately felt fruitless because I wasn’t sure what fellow attendees would like to talk about… or why they would want to talk to a stranger. (Needless to say, Braindate was not available at these events). Here I was again, hoping to be rescued by yet another kind stranger, except this time I was alone in my home office.

“There’s got to be a way to make this a better experience,” I thought to myself. After all, networking is essential in the journey towards personal and professional growth. In fact, in an increasingly remote world, networking is the way to create a community around yourself, grow your network, find new professional opportunities, and learn from others’ experiences.

So I did what I always do when faced with a challenge: my research. I scoured the internet, spoke with colleagues, friends, and peers, to create this helpful guide for you.

In this article, I’ll begin by reframing our mindset and then share networking tips for introverts, so you can successfully navigate for virtual and in-person events! By the end of this article, I promise you’ll be excited to put yourself out there and start growing your network.

Can an introvert be good at networking?

Can an introvert be good at networking

Short answer: yes!

Popular media and culture likes to portray introverts as being socially awkward or aloof people who can’t succeed in a social setting. Of course, this is far from the truth. When the world favors extroversion so much, it’s easy to forget that being a social butterfly is not the only way to be a socially adept person in this world.

So, I like to remind myself that introversion and extroversion merely point to the way different people like to relax and recharge. That while I may not be comfortable in a room full of strangers, I can still make my mark and form meaningful relationships with totally new people.

“I’m convinced that qualities, which introverts seem to share—feeling like an outsider, being an observer, curiosity about the stories and situations of others—inform how I’ve made my way through life…My long-held theory is that introverts (and other unassuming people) are well suited to building a strong web of connections because of some distinctive characteristics we share.”

 – Karen Wickre, Quartz

Wickre is correct. Research has shown that introverts might even have an upper hand when it comes to networking:

Introverts tend to be good observers.

In a room filled with people, introverts are likely to spend more time observing than jumping from one conversation to another. This allows them to learn about people – through their actions, their energy – before they connect with them. This allows introverts to meet people where they’re at, putting them at ease, and setting the stage for a more comfortable exchange.

Introverts tend to be careful when speaking.

Introverts tend to be more conscious about wasting someone else’s (and their) time. So, they carefully consider their opinions before speaking and get right to the point. This leads to more substantive discussions.

Introverts tend to be good listeners.

In a networking context, most people are interested in promoting themselves and collecting as many contacts as possible. A mindset like this makes it difficult to forge a meaningful connection. Introverts, who are comfortable with silence, tend to give others space to express themselves. Their active listening skills allow them to have better conversations and therefore experience deeper connections.

The qualities above help introverts form a higher quality (rather than quantity) of relationships. Within the context of networking, your introverted nature can be your superpower.

In the following sections, I share tips that will allow you to apply your superpower to networking and approach it in a way that feels comfortable and dare I say.. enjoyable.

How do you network as an introvert at a virtual event?

Network as an introvert at a virtual event

Attending a virtual event? Here are tips you can use to connect with the right people and have great conversations:

Identify your goals for the event.

Begin by answering the following questions: Is there something in particular that you want to learn about? Are you facing any challenges that you’d like to get advice on? Is there something you’re particularly excited to share? What kinds of people would you need in your network to propel your goals forward? Do you have a goal for the number of people you’d like to connect with?

Make a list of people you want to connect with.

Based on the answers to the questions above, make a list of the types of people you’d like to connect with at the event. Before the event, peruse the participant list and identify the people you want to reach out to. If there’s no participant list, use the event hashtag on social media to find out who else is going.

Do your research.

You’ll feel more comfortable if you have some idea of what the person you want to connect with wants to talk about. A tool like Braindate makes this easy. However, if you’re at an event, where Braindate is not the networking solution, do a bit of research into the people on your wishlist. Look at their attendee profiles to see if they have indicated any interests. Scan their social media to find out what they’re currently interested in.

Identify topics you’d like to discuss.

Based on your event goals, make a list of topics you’d like to discuss, or questions you’d like to ask people. You could also build this list to reflect the current interests and challenges of the people on your wishlist, and ways in which you might be able to give them support.

Draft a message, hit send, book meetings.

Use the event messaging system to start reaching out! If you’ve followed the steps above, you would have been able to draft a thoughtful and personalized message. If and when they respond, make sure you book them for a one-on-one chat before, during or after the event. As an introvert, this will fall right within your comfort zone.

Connect with attendees participating in the same event sessions.

If you’ve looked through the participant list and are still at a loss for who you should connect with… be on the lookout for potential connections at the sessions you attend virtually. Most virtual event sessions have a chat feature. Make a note of participants who are active in the chat. After the event session, reach out to them to discuss the event session.

How do you network as an introvert at an in-person event?

Networking at TED women 2016

Will you be networking in person? Whether you’re going to a networking mixer or attending a conference, here are some tips you can use to make high quality connections without breaking a sweat.

Use social media (or the event app) to connect with people before the event. 

Having familiar faces in the room will make the experience of networking a lot less nerve wracking. As suggested in the previous section, make a list of people you’d like to connect with based on your goals for the event. Reach out to them via social media or the event messaging app and introduce yourself. Suggest connecting for a quick chat before or during the event.

Host a discussion group for other introverts at the event.

Take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in your discomfort with networking. There are other introverts at the event who are feeling the same way. Host an introvert friendly meetup at the event or post a message in the event group inviting other introverts to connect. They’ll be grateful for the opportunity and you’ll feel more comfortable connecting with people you can easily relate to.

Come with a list of questions and topics you want to talk about.

It can be so awkward to start a conversation with a stranger. Make this process easier on yourself by preparing a list of questions you can ask to get the conversation going. Thinking about specific topics that you’d like to talk about is also helpful to make sure you have more intentional conversations.

Ask a friend to introduce you to people. 

Who says that you have to do all the heavy lifting on your own? Ask a friend to connect you with people before the event. Alternatively, go to the networking event with a friend. You’ll feel more comfortable and your friend might even act as your conversational wing-person.

Take breaks to recharge. 

It can be draining to be around large groups of people. You don’t have to power through the event, forcing yourself to participate in all the conversations or stay the entire time. Be aware of your energy levels and when you start feeling tired or overwhelmed, exercise self-compassion and take a 10-minute break. You can also set boundaries for yourself, like allowing yourself to leave after a certain amount of time has passed. 

Make sure to follow up after the event.

No matter how many people you’ve spoken to at the event, or for how long, make sure you connect with them after the event. Send them a follow up message thanking them for their time, and inviting them to reconnect at a future date. This is how you’ll turn those connections into meaningful relationships.

Checklist: Networking Tips for Virtual Events & Virtual Networking Tips for live events

Infographic: Networking tips for introverts at virtual and live events.

Networking for Introverts – TED talks to inspire you

The power of introverts by Susan Cain

An introvert’s guide to networking by Rick Turoczy

How Braindate transforms networking into something even an introvert would love

I love my job for many reasons. One of them being: I often get to use the Braindate platform at events to meet new people, learn from them, make real conversation and form valuable relationships.

The tips listed in the sections above are helpful. When it comes to using Braindate, I don’t need to use them. That’s because Braindate has been designed to make its users feel at ease and to celebrate the knowledge they bring to the table.

I get to network as part of my job. And I no longer hate it. In fact, I enjoy it, because most of the time I get to use Braindate to do it. And when I can’t, I apply the principles of braindating to make traditional networking contexts work for me and my objectives. I approach each person with a peer learning mindset: Here is someone I can learn from and who can learn from me. How can we help each other in reaching our goals? 

What’s funny is that Braindate was never created as a networking solution. That’s exactly why it is so successful as one. By empowering people to learn from one another, it is transforming conventional networking contexts into welcoming and inclusive environments.

If you’re curious to learn more, read about Braindate features designed to facilitate better conversations and networking at events.

If you’re an events professional, a community leader, or just someone who is interested in creating introvert-friendly networking experiences, get in touch with us! We would love to hear from you.

For the complete guide to event networking in 2022, click here.

Free Checklist

Networking Tips for Introverts at In-Person and Virtual Events

A step-by-step checklist  to make valuable and lasting connections at your next networking event.

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