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Networking: How to shine even if you’re shy

Ask a veteran salesperson how they can summon the will to put themselves out there every day, and the answer will reassure even the shyest networker. Truly confident salespeople believe in what they’re doing because they know they’re doing their prospects a favor. They have solutions to other people’s needs. This is what we all need to remember when networking, especially the shyest of us. Here are a few other tips:

Start networking with people you know.

Networking first with friends and family instead of strangers can get you over the important first hurdle. A series of successful conversations will make you more confident. The next step is pursuing people you share interests or history with. Members of clubs, alumni groups, etc.  Many of these groups actually exist for networking, so members should be open to making connections.

Remember that you are a social creature.

When shy people realize that humans are hard-wired to create communities and interact with others it can help them overcome their fears. Yes, we are all on a spectrum from introvert to extrovert, but none of us was born to be alone.

Listen to the experts.

Peter Handal, the chairman, CEO, and president of Dale Carnegie & Associates, shared some of Carnegie’s rules for meeting new people with CIO.com. They’re so simple and yet so important:

  • Smile: We’re often so focused on needing to network that we don’t realize we’re forgetting something as simple as a welcoming smile.
  • Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully: People love to share their insights and you also build your credibility by asking a question. If you can get people to discuss their experiences and opinions, you can have great conversations with very little effort on your part.
  • Say the person’s name: When you meet people, use their name in conversation right away to make them feel more comfortable.
  • Be Yourself.

To get value from networking, you don’t have to act like an extrovert; you just have to make an effort to be a little more forward than you’re used to. You can be authentic. Being honest will be endearing to people you meet.

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