by Matt Alderton | April 30, 2019
For introverts, social situations can be just as terrifying as conventional fears, like that of spiders. And if social situations are like spiders, professional networking events are akin to a big, hairy tarantula.

But it doesn't have to be that way, author Michelle Tillis Lederman writes in an article for the Association for Talent Development. "Introverts should know that they can feel completely at ease in business and social situations," she says. "What's more, being introverted actually can be a strength. Introverts are often naturally equipped to initiate connections because they tend to be good listeners and thrive in the one-on-one conversations. And that is where real connections are formed."

It's true: Although networking events might feel unnatural to you if you're an introvert, they can actually be a stage on which you shine. All it takes is knowing how to play to your strengths when you attend such a gathering.

For instance, consider arriving early. "At the start of an event, everyone is a little lost and looking for someone to talk with. It is actually easier to find someone to chat with when the room is not yet crowded," Lederman says. "Throughout the night, those early conversations become familiar faces that are easier to approach when larger groups are participating in the conversations."

Another idea is volunteering to work the event instead of merely attending it. "Having a job assigned gives you both purpose and permission to talk with people," Lederman continues. "Even easier, you have a built-in topic related to your volunteer post. The goal will be to expand on the conversation."

The key is knowing what you do well and where you're most comfortable -- and leaning into that.

Concludes Lederman, "As an introvert, you're in a realm where being extroverted is championed, but you know your own talents and skills."

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