The ability to build a broad and diverse network can open up career paths, provide access to new resources and foster innovative collaborations. But while some seem to master networking effortlessly, others find it challenging – especially those who consider themselves introverted.
Our aim with this article is to show you that effective networking is a learnable skill that can be developed regardless of your personality. We will present practical strategies and tips that will help you to consciously expand and maintain your network.
We also explore how this can happen through modern technologies, especially event apps, networking. These digital helpers offer new ways to socialize and strengthen relationships even before the actual event begins. By combining traditional approaches with the power of technology, we can reshape the way we interact and realize the full potential of our network.
Begleiten Sie uns auf dieser Entdeckungsreise, die das Networking demokratisiert und zeigt, dass jeder – unabhängig von seiner Persönlichkeit – die Fähigkeit besitzt, im Netzwerken aufzublühen.
Table of contents
- The basics of networking
- Our networking tips
- Special challenges for introverts
- Key takeaways for successful networking
- The role of technology in networking
The basics of networking
What is networking and why is it important?
Networking is the deliberate establishment and maintenance of relationships with people who may be of mutual interest, either professionally or personally. It is a strategic process that aims to build a network of contacts based on trust and mutual benefit. In the business world, networking is invaluable as it opens up access to new business opportunities, knowledge, ideas and career opportunities. It enables the exchange of resources, the promotion of synergies and can act as a catalyst for growth and innovation.
A strong network can serve as a safety net and springboard, even when competition is constantly increasing or markets are changing rapidly. It’s not just about getting a business card or collecting LinkedIn contacts, but about cultivating relationships that grow in value over time.
The psychology of networking: extroverts & introverts
The common perception is that extroverts have natural advantages in networking. Their energy and comfort in dealing with social situations seem to make them predestined for socializing. Extroverts are often talkative, expressive and easily connect with new groups and individuals.
Introverts, on the other hand, prefer to have deeper conversations in quieter, less crowded environments. They may find networking stressful because it seems less natural for them to approach people and make small talk. But this perspective overlooks the unique strengths that introverts bring to the game. Their ability to listen and ask deep questions can lead to more meaningful and authentic connections.
Understanding your own personality traits is crucial to developing a networking strategy that suits you. It’s not about changing yourself, but about recognizing and using your strengths. Networking is not a one-size-fits-all concept, but a multifaceted process that offers room for different styles and approaches.
Our networking tips
Developing the right attitude
Successful networking starts with the right attitude. It’s about developing a positive, open and proactive attitude. See networking as an opportunity to learn and grow, not just a means to an end. It’s important to be authentic and show genuine interest in the people you meet. Go into a conversation with the intention of building a relationship, rather than just thinking about what you can gain from it. Such an attitude will not only reduce your anxiety about networking, but will also improve the quality of your interactions.
Building your personal brand: Who are you and what do you have to offer?
Your personal brand is the unique combination of skills, experience and personality that you present to the world. It defines how others perceive and remember you. To build your personal brand, you need to clearly define who you are, what makes you special and what value you can offer others. This may include your expertise, your unique experiences or your perspective on your field. A strong personal brand will set you apart from others and make it easier for people to remember you and recommend you to others.
The art of listening and non-verbal communication
Good networking requires more than just good speaking; it also requires good listening. Active listening shows that you value the opinions and stories of others. It allows you to make connections and build trust. Non-verbal communication – such as eye contact, body language and facial expressions – also plays a crucial role. It can convey your attention and commitment without words. Be aware of your non-verbal signals and make sure they match your verbal message.
When someone is speaking, nod occasionally to show that you are paying attention. Ask thoughtful questions based on what the person has said to demonstrate that you are really listening. For example, “You mentioned that you recently completed a project in South America. How have local market conditions impacted your strategy?”
Repeat in your own words what the other person has said to make sure you have understood the information correctly and to show your interest. For example: “If I understand you correctly, you are looking for ways to increase the efficiency of your team through digital tools, right?”
Show through your reactions that you not only understand the words, but also the feelings behind the words. For example: “That sounds like a real challenge. How did it make you feel?”
Maintain appropriate eye contact during the conversation to signal interest and trust. Avoid staring or looking away too often, which could suggest disinterest or uncertainty.
An open posture, such as uncrossed arms and a slight tilt towards the other person, signals openness and a willingness to engage in dialog. In contrast, a closed posture, such as crossed arms or averted body, can express rejection or disinterest.
An authentic smile can convey warmth and friendliness, which is very valuable in networking situations. At the same time, a raised eyebrow can signal interest or curiosity, while a frown can express confusion or concern.
Gestures can emphasize your words and add emphasis. For example, pointing out the palms of your hands can suggest openness and honesty, while pointing with your finger can come across as aggressive.
Elevator pitch: Present yourself briefly and concisely
An elevator pitch is a short, convincing introduction of yourself that can be presented quickly and effectively. It should capture the essence of your personal brand and make your counterpart curious to learn more. A good elevator pitch is clear, concise and specific. It communicates who you are, what you do and what unique contribution you can make. Practice your elevator pitch until it comes across as natural and convincing, and be ready to use it at various networking opportunities.
Example 1: Graphic designer
“Hi, I’m Lisa, a graphic designer with a weakness for minimalist design. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some up-and-coming tech startups where I’ve designed everything from app interfaces to brand logos. What really drives me is visual storytelling – I love turning complex ideas into simple but powerful images. I’m currently looking for projects that challenge me and where I can fully utilize my attention to detail and creative streak.”
Example 2: IT project manager
“Hey, I’m Tom, and I manage IT projects that are sometimes so complex they seem like a Rubik’s Cube. Over the past few years, I’ve steered teams through the chaos of large-scale projects, always with the goal of delivering not only on time, but with a product that users love. I’m particularly proud of a recent project where we reduced time to market by 30%. Now I’m looking for a new challenge, ideally in an environment that values agility and creative problem solving.”
Of course, you should not always reproduce your elevator pitch 1 to 1. Think of it more like a foundation that you use as the basis for a brief introduction to your personal brand. It is important for networking that your basic identity comes across in it.
Special challenges for introverts
Recognizing the strengths of introverts in networking
Introverts often have a number of strengths that can be particularly valuable in networking. Their tendency to reflect allows them to ask deeper questions and communicate on a more personal level. They tend to listen well and focus on the conversation, which helps them build strong and meaningful relationships. Introverts are often very conscientious and prepared, which enables them to have focused and thoughtful conversations. These traits can make them excellent networkers if they learn to use them effectively.
Overcoming fear and self-doubt
Fear and self-doubt are common obstacles that can stop many introverts from networking. To overcome these, it’s important to set small, doable goals and face challenging situations one step at a time. Preparing for networking events can also help to reduce anxiety. This includes finding out about the participants, preparing questions and scheduling breaks to recharge your batteries. Realizing that not every conversation has to be perfect can also take pressure off and promote self-acceptance.
Examples of targets:
- One conversation per event
Make a commitment to have a meaningful conversation with at least one new person at each networking event.
- Exchange business cards
Set yourself the goal of exchanging at least three business cards at an event and then following up by e-mail.
- Prepare questions
Bereiten Sie zwei bis drei Fragen vor, die Sie in Gesprächen verwenden können, um das Eis zu brechen und den Dialog zu eröffnen.
- One connection per week
Try to make at least one new professional connection online every week, for example on LinkedIn.
- Participation in a workshop
Sign up for a small workshop or seminar to learn in a structured environment and meet new people at the same time.
- Set follow-up
After an event or conversation, set a goal to send a follow-up message within 24 hours to strengthen the connection.
- Talk to a friend
Start a conversation with someone you know by sight but have not yet spoken to in person.
- Attend a lecture
Go to a lecture or presentation and ask the speaker a question at the end.
Networking strategies for introverts
In addition to small self-imposed goals, there are of course general networking strategies that you can pursue. Some of these include.
- Quality over quantity
Concentrate on communicating with fewer people, but on a deeper level. It is more effective to have a few good conversations than many superficial ones.
- One-on-one conversations
Look for one-on-one opportunities where you feel more comfortable rather than in large groups.
- Use of digital tools
Online networks like LinkedIn can provide a less intimidating way to make new contacts and start conversations.
- Targeted selection of networking events
Choose events that match your interests and strengths. Smaller, more intimate events may be more enjoyable than large conferences.
- Taking on roles and tasks at events
Volunteering or specific roles at events can provide a natural structure and make it easier to connect with others.
- Buddy system
Go to networking events with a friend or colleague, which can take the pressure off and make the experience more enjoyable.
By learning to utilize their unique skills and adopting strategies that suit their temperament, introverts can overcome the challenges of networking and achieve their professional and personal goals. Accordingly, it is not necessary to realize all strategies. They are intended more as inspiration to find your own methods of networking effectively and enjoyably.
Key takeaways for successful networking
To conclude our guide to successful networking, it is important to recap the key points that can help you improve your networking skills:
- Preparation is crucial
Define your goals and do your research in advance in order to network in a targeted and effective way.
- Active engagement
Be proactive, both online and in person, and take every opportunity to make meaningful connections.
- Quality over quantity
Deeper conversations are often more valuable than a large number of superficial contacts.
- Technology as an aid
Use event apps and social media to expand and maintain your network.
Stay in dialog with your contacts even after an event to build lasting relationships.
The role of technology in networking
From event apps to social networks – the opportunities for digital networking are developing rapidly. But how can you make the best use of these tools for your networking? And which innovative trends are on the verge of a breakthrough?
Discover how you can use the latest technological developments to your advantage in our blog post “Networking in the digital age: How technology is changing networking”. We dive deeper into the world of digital networking and give you insights that go beyond what we’ve already discussed here.