If you’re an introverted person, the thought of carrying on full-length conversations with strangers over the phone or in-person may be a bit intimidating. And though we live in a digital world ruled by the Internet, it’s important to come out from behind your screen and put a voice and face to contacts you interact with in the industry.
You can vastly improve your relationships with colleagues, suppliers, and partners by attending networking events or engaging with them through video conference. If you’re an introvert who is uncomfortable in large-group settings or when meeting new people in general, check out the following tips to help you overcome your networking fears.
1. Utilize Current Relationships
Get more comfortable with networking by attending a few events with people you already know. This can help ease you into the world of networking within your industry and provide you with a safety net should you become overwhelmed. Have your extroverted acquaintances help break the ice by introducing you to people they know or chatting together with new contacts.
2. Ask Mutual Connections to Extend a Head’s Up
Whenever you’re given new contact details by a friend or colleague, ask your mutual connection to send out a quick call or message to the new contact letting them know to expect your call. This head’s up will serve as a quick introduction that establishes your credibility with the new contact and helps put you more at ease about the upcoming call.
3. Connect Digitally Before Calling
To avoid any upfront awkwardness, before calling your new contact, send an introductory email or connect via LinkedIn. This way, your phone call won’t come as a complete surprise, and you’ll both be better prepared for the conversation. Breaking the ice this way can help take some of the pressure off of that first networking chat.
4. Prepare Talking Points in Advance
Before initiating a phone call or in-person conversation with a new contact, plan ahead by preparing a brief script or list of talking points. Introverts may require more time to gather their thoughts, so it’s helpful to have a pre-planned set of notes to help guide you through the conversation. This can also help you feel more confident that you won’t forget anything or get off track.
5. Plan Networking Events When You’re at Your Best
When planning your networking schedule and goals, be sure to take into account which time of day your energy is highest and your mood is optimal. If you’re a night owl who can’t be spoken to in the morning until your fourth cup of coffee, you may want to pursue evening networking opportunities. On the other hand, if you’re most productive first thing in the morning, you should seek out events that take place bright and early. You’ll be more at ease and exude more confidence when you’re feeling alert and comfortable.
6. Set Attainable Goals, Then Relax
Stave off anxiety by setting reachable goals that aren’t intimidating or overwhelming. If you generally need a break after speaking to four or five people, set your goal at chatting with four new contacts. Most introverts need a little extra time to unwind after engaging in meaningful conversations, so take time to relax and recharge once you’ve met your goal.
7. Persist in the Face of Discomfort
No matter how much practice you get in the art of conversation, as an introvert, you may always face a little discomfort when networking over the phone or in-person. The important thing is to acknowledge your fears or insecurities and then face them head-on. Push through the small amount of discomfort required to help vastly improve your network of contacts.
From leaning on mutual connections to sending a preemptive email, there are many ways introverts can reduce their discomfort and increase their confidence while networking with new people. Building up your network and filling it with reliable business partners is one of the keys to your success as a travel agent, so take the time you need to best become comfortable conversing with your peers in the industry.
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