1. Create an environment where there are no surprises. Introverts prefer to know what’s happening, where & when. This reduces the build up of anxiety - as much as possible you are removing the unknown. I offer an online Facebook group exclusively for guests, where they can get to know the other guests they are going to meet on the day. It gives them a feeling of belonging and being connected, it is less pressured than face to face. When they meet in person they already know these people and can continue conversations they’ve had online. They are not meeting strangers, they are meeting friends.
2. Prepare them for the day. People who find social situations uncomfortable will prefer to arrive early before everyone else. So information in advance about where to park, what the venue looks like and how best to get there will ease their feelings of worry or uncertainty.
3. Introverts don’t want to feel that they’ll be the only one. Reassure them with examples of quotes or testimonials that other guests have given saying how they felt anxious about networking, but they enjoyed the experience much more than they had imagined and were not only happy to do it again, but looking forward to it.
4. Tell them exactly what will happen on the day. Showing them video and photos from previous networking events will give them an insight into what it is really like. So they can see for themselves before they decide. A ‘try before you buy’ type opportunity.
5. A small number of people in an open welcoming place will put them at ease. Crowded pokey places with lots of people and lots of noise will only exaggerate an introvert's apprehension. I specifically design events for a maximum of 12 people in a beautiful tea room vintage boutique called Heartfelt Vintage. It is run by husband & wife team Kate & Will who homecook all our delicious lunches. So guests feel they are spending time with friends in an open warm informal environment. There is no pressure to perform or be anybody you are not.
6. Attract people with similar interests & goals and introverts will feel they belong. Everyone’s passion & energy for their business is high and this breeds security & support among a network.
7. Leading by example. I share my worries & concerns (as the whole group do) with my guests. They can see I have the same troubles as they do. Introverts then feel included, accepted & that there is a real sense of kinship.
Thank you for the contribution from Come Network With Me Tribe! Who without them my networking experiences wouldn't be successful or exist at all!
Come Network With Me is a monthly networking experience for female small business owners & start-ups in Bristol & the South West.