Some extroverts love networking. Everybody else, well, probably doesn’t greet it with quite the same degree of enthusiasm. It’s not even a question of being introverted; the prospect of heading into an event where you know virtually nobody, and striking up a conversation with total strangers, is sweat-inducing even among people who consider themselves good at dealing with others.
And it’s not like networking is something you can escape, at least if you want to advance in your career. While skills and experience are important, landing new jobs and responsibilities is just as often a question of who you know, and how well.
In light of all that, what’s an easy way to ease the difficulties of networking face-to-face? Consider bringing a buddy along with you to networking events. With a supportive partner backing you, you’re more likely to engage in conversation.
It still helps, though, to walk into the event with a plan. Review with your buddy any goals for the event; do you both have “pitches” that adequately express your current position and future goals? Are you on the lookout for potential mentors, interesting contacts, or something else? Knowing mutual goals can help you coordinate efforts.
Many people find networking an uncomfortable activity. A friend can make it a little more bearable.