Date: 23 August 2018Networking. Does it float your boat or do you die a little bit inside when someone mentions it? Either way, networking is a necessity for recruiters. When you work in a people industry, the ability to build connections with people is must. However, if by nature, you are an introvert – networking can be trickier and more draining than for extroverted characters. Are you an introvert recruiter? For the record, I want to clear up what is an introvert. It’s not someone who is shy, rude or stand-offish (in the same way that extroverts are not all party animals or loud mouths). It’s more like someone who has a natural preference for smaller groups, less talk and more of a quality connection. I am an introvert. Most people who know me wouldn’t describe me as shy, but I need time and space for myself to think, recharge and reflect. In fact much as I sometimes enjoy networking, I can often find it challenging and a drain on my energy. So with the recruitment conference season in full swing. Here is the introverted recruiter’s guide to networking: Pre Event - Join in with more anonymous social networking. Conferences will often have a hashtag or their own twitter account (think #RecExpo or @JobsatTeam), use this to find out who in your networking is going. Posts out on LinkedIn or in Facebook groups are also fine or if you’re fully embracing social channels, feel free to go for Instagram, Pinterest or even Snapchat. Wherever you feel comfortable. - Give yourself some useful talk. It’s easy to get worked up before an event. I’m lucky that my introversion is not that extreme, and the more I do it, the easier it becomes. But it’s useful to remind yourself that people are generally nice, you are all in the same boat and meeting new people is not always a hideous experience. You could even meet some other introverts who welcome the connection. - Try and get a preview of the delegate list. If you already know some people attending you can drop them a line beforehand or ask them for introductions to other people. Just avoid clinging on to them for the duration of the event.At the event - Have some standard opening lines and small talk subjects that you can fall back on. My fail safe opening line is simply, ‘can I join you?’ People can’t say no to this so you’re in. Conversations starters can be a simple introduction of who you are and where you work. Then ask the same of your networking partner. Questions around the conference venue, topics and speakers are always a safe bet too. - Listen well. As an introvert this is likely to be a strong point of yours. Introverts tend to prefer focussing on one or two people in quieter environments. This means you can build better connections and are more attentive. - Don’t dive into sales mode. No-one likes the hard sell and for an introvert it can feel clunky and just plain icky. Talk with passion about what you do by all means but don’t put added pressure on yourself to sell - Lower your barriers. Introverts can be slower to trust. We tend to build strong, close connections and have built in barriers that can keep people at arm’s length. Just because you’re networking with someone doesn’t mean you will become their new best friend, it’s ok to simply network and connect over one event, one common theme. Post event - Do follow up with connections you’ve made. It won’t be in your nature to pounce too soon or give it a hard follow up sales message but an authentic, ‘it was nice to meet you’ message, is a great place to start. You can make use of the LinkedIn reminder feature to tell you how you met the contact and set a note to make contact in a few weeks or months’ time. If they expressed a genuine interest in your recruitment services then follow them up promptly. “Hi John, you said you would be keen to learn more about our candidate screening. It would be good to follow up on this and schedule a call, when would be good for you?” This example is polite, to the point and based on their comments – give it a try. - If networking takes up a lot of energy for you, the travel time back home or to the office afterwards can be a welcome break to regroup. Stop for a coffee and let your energy shift before you join other people Anyone can network well, whether introvert or extrovert. It’s just about finding a way that works for you. If you are an introvert by nature try these tips above and let us know how you get on. If you have any comments or networking tips to share, let us know by sharing or commenting on this piece.