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Networking tips for introverts

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"The way of the world is meeting people through other people." – Robert Kerrigan

Networking is an important part of our professional lives, yet it is a challenge for people who prefer to engage in one-on-one conversations, rather than attempt to work the room. According to Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, as many as 50% of Americans are introverts. If you have ever attended a networking event that left you exhausted instead of energized, the following tips may help you in your quest for a new client, career or volunteer opportunity.

[RELATED: Coleman University can help you make the most of your V.A. Benefits and secure your future]

1. First things first, check your social media profile 
Before you attend a networking event, review your LinkedIn profile. What you plan to do next in your career and how you solve problems for your employers are just a few examples of the information recruiters or hiring managers look for in the short amount of time they take to review potential job candidates. – "Five Things Your LinkedIn Profile Must Convey Within Ten Seconds,"
2. Find your personal networking style
Introverts should find their own personal style of approaching others and not try to copy the style of their extrovert counterparts. Smaller networking events will also help to alleviate any anxiety about making connections. – "9 Networking Tips for Introverts,"

3. Talk to everyone you know about what you do
Talk to your existing network. Look for natural opportunities to tell your friends, family and colleagues about your work, job strengths, new projects you are interested in, or exciting industry news. Your existing connections may be able to play “matchmaker” with your next big client or new employer. – "How to Network Without Wasting Time," The Huffington Post 

4. Bring a wingman
Ease into networking by partnering with a co-worker or colleague who is able to introduce you to others and help facilitate the conversation. However, do not fall into the security of sticking so closely to one person that you give up the chance to meet potential contacts. – "7 Networking Tips for Introverts,”

5. Plan to go below the surface
Prepare a few icebreakers prior to the event. Open-ended questions such as “How did you find out about this event?” or “What kinds of people are you looking to meet tonight?” will help to determine if this person should be added to your network, or if he or she could be a valuable connection for a co-worker, client or other associate. – "11 Icebreakers for Your Next Networking Event,"

Attending a networking event is only a first step toward realizing your goal. Take time to follow up with new contacts by sending a written thank-you note, e-mail or placing a quick phone call to tell them you enjoyed meeting them. Follow through on any promises made, such as providing the information for a referral or other resource that may be useful to them. Networking is not about collecting a stack of business cards. It is about establishing a long-term relationship in which both parties can achieve professional success through giving back. 

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