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Do you think that networking is only for extroverted personalities? Worried about how your limited professional connections might be holding your career back? It can be tough jumping in at a networking event when you consider yourself to be more of an introvert. But it’s not impossible. Building business relationships is as important to your professional life as personal relationships are to your personal life. Here are a few high-quality tips to help you ease into the world of professional networking.

Join Organizations

Rather than building a professional network from scratch, look into joining a professional society or organization relevant to your field to help connect with people who share your interests. Many people (both introverts and extroverts alike) rely on these organizations for networking opportunities and professional connections. Being around other people who share your profession, interests or skills can help put introverts at ease. The chances of having something to talk about with someone you’ve met at a professional event are much better than other events. Do a little research to see what societies are most relevant to you.

Network with Other Introverts

Introverts might not be as easy to find at large networking events as extroverts, but there are plenty of ways to locate and connect with other introverts in your industry. Try smaller-scale events, like lunches or individual meet-ups to connect with others who prefer less of a crowd. Connecting directly with people you interact with at work, such as clients, coworkers, etc. can also be a good way to network with other introverts. Social media is also a good resource to connect with other professionals looking to build their network without feeling pressured in a social situation.

Take a Friend

Using the buddy system is an easy way to make sure you will always have someone to talk to at a networking event. Partnering with a friend can make large events less intimidating to attend, and it can set you off on a good start as you will be more relaxed and comfortable from the start. Friends or colleagues are great at giving introductions as well. You don’t have to stay attached at the hip throughout the event, but having someone familiar to check in with when conversation lags can help keep your momentum high and your interests from waning.

Find Your Comfort Zone, then Go Beyond It

Practice makes perfect, and your networking skills will develop with practice and as you gain confidence. Finding the opportunities and the topics that make you most comfortable will help you make high-quality connections with other professionals more naturally. It might be difficult, but strike up a conversation with someone at the supermarket or in another retail setting. That type of casual conversation provides no commitment and is usually short in duration. Once you have the hang of networking in more casual formats, you can branch out into larger and more challenging networking opportunities. Eventually, everyone needs to push the boundaries of their comfort zone. Only then will you be able to grow.

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