If the idea of approaching people you don't know intimidates you, then begin your networking efforts by seeking out familiar faces, such as relatives and friends.
You can do a significant amount of valuable networking without ever having to make a cold call. Start with someone you know instead of a stranger. It demystifies the networking process and helps gets you over the hurdle. A series of successful conversations will make you more confident.
A logical next step after talking with friends and family is to pursue old chums and people who graduated from your college. Your alumni network can be a gold mine of connections, if you have one. It exists for the purpose of networking, so contacting an alum out of the blue shouldn't feel like a cold call. After all, they joined the network to make and take such calls.
Introverts and inexperienced networkers often apologise when asking for an individual's help because they see networking as an imposition, not as an exercise in relationship building. They feel like they're asking someone to do them a favour.
Apologising simply demonstrates your lack of professionalism and confidence. It's also annoying and juvenile. You don't have to apologise for asking for help. You don't have to apologise for wanting to learn more about the individual with whom you're networking. One day you may be able to help them out.
Reach down deep
Sometimes, when an introvert hears that he's not inherently a loner, that humans are innately social creatures, the realization helps him emerge from his shell of shyness, he says.
The Wisdom of Dale Carnegie
Dale Carnegie literally wrote the original book on networking in 1936. 'How to Win Friends and Influence People', it demystified the process of making friends out of strangers and inspired legions of business coaches to carry on Carnegie's message.
Speak the person's name:
Many introverted professionals think they have to act like an extrovert in networking situations. While you do have to make an effort to be more gregarious than normal, don't try to fake it too much. You should never come across as artificial.
You don't have to be the golden tongued schmoozer. The problem with the schmoozer's approach to networking is that they don't have the right intent. Their not interested in helping other people, only themself and everyone knows that.
Join activity clubs or grups and attend events that relate to an interest or activity you enjoy. If you enjoy wine, attend a wine tasting at your local liquor store. If you're a keen reader, join a book club and even better take a leading role.
Yes, you're a technology professional but it doesn't mean that you should only go to technology conferences to network. The advantage of engaging in activities you enjoy with other people is that it makes conversation so much easier. So, there's no reason not to do a bit of networking, even when you're having an amiable conversation.
Attending gatherings where you feel comfortable helps to bring out the best in you but avoid situations where you might be stressed, rushed or distracted from your networking mission.
If you do find yourself in a room full of strangers at a technology conference or party, lead th econversation to the topics that interests you. When you talk about things you're passionate about, you will light up and appear more engaging.
Ask for Introductions
Shy people attending conferences tend to find one person with whom they spend all their time for the duration of the event. This is not good.
Although settling in with one person may be more comfortable for the introvert than introducing himself to lots of new people, it is an avoidance technique and completely defeats the purpose of networking.
The shy person can engage the services of a more outgoing friend and ask them to introduce them around. Equally, you can ask the one guy you have engaged with to introduce you to others that they may know. That may be and easier or softer way for shy people to meet others.
Sometimes shy people have trouble networking because they believe they have come along empty handed i.e. they don't think they have anything valuable or significantto give back to someone who helped them, e.g. a job or a contact.
Although networking works best when you do have something to offer, what you offer doesn't have to be a job. Sincere interest in the other person, and empty flattery, is a form of generosity and goes a long way when you're networking.
Follow Up /Feedback
Sharing information—whether a website, article, report or phone number—with new contacts builds your credibility. So if you promised to e-mail a report to someone you met on the plane, make sure you do that.
When you do what you've said you were going to do, it gives the other person the impression that you have integrity and can keep your word. Otherwise, you're just going to get classified as another empty schmoozer.
Feel the Fear
In the course of networking, you'll encounter people who can't or don't want to help you . That's life. Don't take it personally and don't dwell on it. It's all part of the process. It's very like the tele sales market, it's a numbers game. Play the percentages. The more you try, the more you succeed.
When you overcome your fear of rejection, it'll be easier to make cold calls and strike up conversations with strangers. The person sitting next to you at a banquet or on an airplane may be feeling as uncomfortable as you are and will appreciate you breaking the ice.
If you can't open up to people, you'll never be able to network and if you absolutely can not overcome your shyness on your own, seek help. Someone who can help you understand why you're so shy and give you the tools to change. It may change your career path and it will change your life, for the better.