A Guide to Networking for the Shy Girl

This article is Part of Business 101: The Career Crucials series.

If there are people out there who say they love to walk into a room filled with strangers who they need to meet and impress in minutes, I'm politely calling them out. However, I agree that for some, it can be uber-daunting. If you feel especially ill at ease, you don't need to force yourself to channel Robin Williams. Just take some deep breaths and remember the following:

networking feel awkward
  • Prep. Make a mental note of conversation starters. Something as simple as "Hello, I'm Heidi. What brought you to this event?" is great.  Don't forget that the starter doesn't always have to be business-related, or even a question. Starting with "Hello, I'm Heidi. I saw your dress from across the room and just had to ask you where you got it because it's fantastic on you," not only breaks the ice but also make someone feel good.

  • Find out who will be there. Find out ahead of time who might be at the event that you want to meet and then prep questions specifically for them. Questions or comments that are specific to the person really emphasizes your interest in them. For example, "I was hoping to meet you. I'm so interested in how you first came up with the idea for self-parking cars." Flattery in the form of interest and admiration for what someone does goes a long way.

how to network
  • Meet people out of your comfort zone. Once you arrive, don't be afraid to strike up conversations with solo attendees or small groups. If you're with friends or with other people you just met, introduce yourselves to someone who looks shy (or even bored). Give everyone a chance and a positive attitude, this makes for good vibes all around.

  • Listen. Remember - people love to talk about themselves and, consequently, love a good listener.

how to network
  • Set Realistic Goals. That being said, you may feel tempted to stick with one friendly person all evening or feel stressed that you have to "meet everyone!"

So, set a goal, such as three people.  Once you've achieved that goal, relax and call it a successful night. You may even find that when you're more relaxed, you end up making even more friends and acquaintances. Now, pat yourself on the back for your success, head home and snuggle up to a Netflix binge of "Game of Thrones." Now there's a stressful networking world.



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RESPONSES

  • Serena says:

    Oh Heidi, I love your sample intro spiels… You know how to break the ice!

  • Serena says:

    I meant to say, the sample conversation starter “Hello, I’m Heidi. I saw your dress from across …” is really a classy and cool way to start up the crowd. I like it. Thanks for sharing this.

    Me again, Serena

  • Sophie says:

    Thanks for sharing this Heidi.. I actually haven’t done any networking lately due to tack of opportunity, but when this happens, I’ll take note of your advice and let you know 🙂

  • Clarisse says:

    My best networking tip would have to be like the one you suggested – just being a good listener. Everyone loves a good listener, someone who wouldn’t judge but would stay there and listen and take it all in, so that the other person will feel appreciated..

  • Magenta Jacobs says:

    I wish I have your confidence to be able to strike a conversation in a crowd. That’s a great advantage when socializing and networking. Too bad, I tend to shy away when I get to see a lot of people, although I’m okay if there’s only a few present.

  • Rhyanna says:

    I got no tips to share, I’m sorry, but I love all these that you’ve shared.

  • Kitty Gurl says:

    Great networking tips! I actually do most of what you mentioned above, but one that I often do is making a bee-line to someone who is alone when I attend a party or luncheons. I dunno why, but I feel more at ease if I talk to someone who is by himself or herself only. It’s an opportunity, as you’ve said, to meet new people and hook ’em up in your network.

  • Arianne says:

    When I am on a party or event, what I do to gain more followers and impress possible partners, is to listen intently to their stories and show enthusiasm in their work. Gotta hone those listening skills every now and then, to prove to them that you value their opinions and critique.

  • Love the tips you shared, Heidi, and also from the other commenters. I’m a bit of a shy girl so these ideas would surely help me in the future happenings of my office life.

  • Marie says:

    Thank you for this post, Heidi, I actually don’t have the nerve to start a conversation, much more to attend an event full of crowds. I guess I really am a bit of a loner.

  • Claire says:

    My friends say I’m great in chatting up with friends and making new acquaintances. I’d say it’s an acquired taste. I’ve been meeting & dealing with a lot of people with my line of work (social event planning) but when I was just a beginner, I also have those goosebumps and nerve shattering moments when I have to talk to someone important or confide with a problem that I am unable to find the solution to. It’s all my mind, as it happened, because once I set my eyes on the price, I knew I’m in for the long haul.

  • MJ Walters says:

    These are great tips, Heidi. It’s always best to come to battle prepared with weapons and all, as the saying goes. As much as possible, when I go to an event or invited to a party, I make sure I am prepared and I know most of the people arriving so I know who to talk to and who to approach with caution.

  • Ruthie says:

    I love all your tips here, really helpful for someone like me who not only feels awkward most of the time, I also feel out of place when in a crowd.

  • Norma Jean says:

    Great tips! I don’t have any marketing tips to share, but I’m grateful to have come up with this article of yours and learn a lot from you.

  • Wilma C says:

    I’m not much of a talker, really, so striking up a conversation in a party would be a dilemma to me. But usually, if I get invited to a party and I know who the invited guests are, I do a random check of them through their social media accounts, especially when I do not personally know the person and then get to know them when I see them at the event.

  • Gabrielle says:

    My goodness, I can see you are the expert in chatting up or opening a conversation. I could learn a lot from you. Thanks for the guide!

  • Valeria M. says:

    Most of the time, I am the “that person over there who looks shy” in a party. I tend to blend with the wallpaper and sometimes I want to just hide there until the party is done. I’m really not much into partying except when my boss and colleagues oblige me. I ain’t good in conversation at all.

  • kylie rachel says:

    When I go to social events, I want to be sure that I know one or two people there so it’s easy to chat up with them. I’ve got no problem making new friends and acquaintances, if there’s someone I see who needs an ice breaker, I’ll approach her and help break the ice.

  • Patrice Emily says:

    I know what you mean about the stress of having to meet everyone else in a party especially if you’re the one who hosted the entire event. I’ve experienced that once and I was too cautious and worried that someone might be left out of conversation or feel out of place.

  • Preparing before heading out to an event is the best tip I can suggest. Prepare yourself, do some research and be comfortable around people, those are the networking tips I could share since those were what I usually do.

  • Taylor says:

    I’m one of those shy girls in the business. I dunno which way to go when a party begins. This article of yours just gave me so many ideas and tips, for that I am grateful to you Heidi.

  • Jenni Clark says:

    Love the tips and pieces of advice you shared here, very timely and beneficial. Thank you.

  • LJ says:

    I’ve finally overcome my shyness and fear of meeting people, thanks to blog sites like yours that help uphold the confidence of women and share tips and pieces of advice on how to deal with people and be social. Thanks to much, Heidi!

  • mistydew says:

    This is what I need.. Exactly what I need.. I am an extremely shy person, but there are times when I really need to face a crowd. During those times, I feel like a flower melting under the sun.. I really need to improve with my social skills. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Wena Parks says:

    This is exactly what I need. I’ve been cooped up at work and people are complaining about my lack of social skills. I really need to work on that one, and I’m grateful that I found this post.

    • Heidi says:

      It’s great that you recognize what you need to work on and are willing to try. I really hope that my guide will help you out!

  • Aaliyah Jane says:

    I’ve never been comfortable with a crowd and closed spaces. I wish I could have the confidence to be at ease with people first.

  • Helga says:

    I’ve always been the shy girl who’s afraid to mingle in crowds. I can’t even go on stage. I need to pull my act together to overcome this fear.

  • Annalize says:

    These are really great tips that I could use for when I socialize or meet with my bosses. Thank you for all the wonderful posts you share.

  • Spencer says:

    I could be the shyest person in the world. I couldn’t face even the most normal of people if I would be put in front of them. I need to overcome this fear.

  • Dawn Perez says:

    You don’t know how much this article has helped me. I was such a timid girl in the office once, then I got to read this sometime ago and had soon overcome my shyness. It’s been an exhilarating experience. Thank you so much!

  • Jennylin says:

    Thank you so much for all these tips. A shy girl like me needs all the help I can get and your blog is on point!

  • Sheena says:

    So grateful for all these tips. I would love to overcome my shyness to show people that I could be trusted too. It’s time to overcome my fear of people.

  • Hayley B. says:

    I’m never one to shy away from opportunity, now that I have gathered enough strength and confidence for myself. If I were still 20 years younger, maybe I’ would still be timid and afraid of what lies ahead.

  • Camilla says:

    Love all the tips and guide.. I will surely use them when the opportunity comes for me to converse with other people in an event.

  • Emma Jaden says:

    Oh, I wish I could do this. I am relatively shy wherever I go. My colleagues often tease me for being a hermit because I don’t usually go out of my cubicle because I am extremely shy.

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