Written by Kayti Burt, from An Introvert Abroad
Conferences can be great networking opportunities — not to mention a lot of fun! But, as a self-proclaimed introvert, they can also be daunting events that I spend more time dreading than anticipating, afraid that I will end up exhausted and conversation-ed out by the end of the first day.
What’s an introverted girl to do? Here are 10 tips for networking for introverts, in preparation for the Women in Travel Summit (WITS) 2015.
1. Give yourself some breaks
One of the defining traits of The Introvert is a finite amount of energy for socializing and that can be a major drag when trying to network at a conference. We need time to recharge, which usually means finding a quiet place for processing all of the information we’ve gathered. At a conference, where there’s tons of new information, this processing period is even more important. Know your limits and, when you reach them, don’t feel bad about spending some time in your room or in a quiet corner.
2. Clarify your networking goals
What are your networking goals for WITS? Are you aiming for quantity — i.e. handing out your business card to 100 people — or depth — i.e. having fewer, but longer networking conversations? Clarify your networking style and goals before you get to WITS. List some tangible strategies for implementing them so you walk in with a plan.
3. Look for one-on-one networking opportunities
Introverts tend to do better in small groups (at least, I know I do), so look for activities and opportunities that cater to that need. WITS offers some cool options like off-site tours and a pre-conference networking tea.
4. Embrace your introverted strengths
As an introvert, I tend to ask lots of questions. I am genuinely curious about what others have to say, but this also keeps the pressure off of my having to ramble on too long about myself. Though the best networking conversations have some degree of balance, listening to other people explain what they are doing in the travel blogger world can be just as important as “selling yourself.” Embrace those awesome listening skills that often come with introversion and you will be sure to make some great networking connections!
5. Do your research
If you’re overwhelmed by the number of hip, fascinating women who are going to be at WITS (because there are many!), then do your research ahead of time to find the bloggers, brands, etc. you really want to connect with. Make a list and bring it with you to the conference. They will appreciate you knowing a little bit about what they do and you will appreciate having some guidelines to help shape your networking experience.
6. Expect the unexpected
Some of my best networking conversations at last year’s WITS came not during a structured event but while I was waiting for the elevator or hanging out in the lobby. Networking is just a conversation, and — trust me — they just happen at WITS. You are surrounded by compassionate and curious women, who love travel as much as you do. Conversations will happen when you least expect it.
7. Connect ahead of time
The Go Girl Travel Network offers some great ways for forming connections before you even get to WITS. There’s a WITS Attendees Facebook group in which attendees can reach out to fellow attendees about room-sharing, advice on transportation plans, or just to say hello. If you’re nervous about breaking the ice, this is an easy way to do it without even having to socialize in person!
8. Check out the exhibitors’ hall
The exhibitors’ hall is a great, structured way to interact with specific bloggers and brands. Exhibitors are there to share their ideas, products and brands with you. They are experts at networking, which means they can guide the conversation.
9. Remember: this is only the beginning
WITS is a great place to meet other people involved in the travel blogging community, but you probably won’t say everything you want to say during one or two short-term interactions. The WITS community is active year-round on various social media platforms. If you’re excited about learning more, grab a business card or give one of your own, and try connecting at a later date. WITS is only the beginning!
10. Get excited!
Networking is the easiest when you’re excited about the community you’re interacting with, and the WITS community is full of smart, empathetic, funny women who are so much fun to talk to. Remember: you share a common interest and that is more than half the battle. I came away from WITS ’14 overwhelmed by the kindness and curiosity I encountered during my three days in Chicago. And I know WITS ’15 will be just as special.
Do you have any networking tips for introverts? What are some of the networking struggles you may encounter a an introvert? Sound off in the comments below!