Make us your home page

Networking tips for introverts

A reader once wrote to me saying that the whole idea of networking for business and job searches was just too much for him. He is shy by nature, and an introvert. Facing a crowded room of strangers and having to start a conversation overwhelmed him. Research shows he's not alone.

On April 26, 2012, Karl Stark and Bill Stewart wrote a post on, titled, "Networking for Introverts: 3 Tips for Success." They said that introverts make up between 25 and 49 percent of the population and that introverts often suffer in crowded social situations.

They added that introversion increases with higher IQs. Guess the guys on The Big Bang Theory would have a difficult time at a networking event!

Yet, Stark and Stewart noted that networking is still one of the most important business tools we have, and, they added, no matter how painful it may be, you "cannot outsource relationship building." They said that there is hope for people who are painfully shy or who just feel overwhelmed in large, group settings and they gave many excellent tips including:

Network one on one. You can avoid the big, crowded events by simply seeking out people you know, are referred to, or connect with through Linkedin and other business-oriented social media. Then set up a coffee, lunch or dinner date to network.

Introverts tend to be good listeners. Use your listening skills to build valuable relationships. People love to be heard and acknowledged. You can learn a lot and find ways to interact for mutual benefit.

If you must attend a large event with numbers of people, here are some other strategies:

Contact the event organizer a few days early. Tell him or her that you are coming alone and that you don't find large groups easy to navigate. Is there a "Greeter" or "Host" who can help guide you to the type of people or company representatives with whom you can personally network? Most organizing groups have someone who can help introduce you around.

Don't come alone. Bring a wing man or woman who knows people and can act as your guide.

Prior to the event, look up everything you can about it online. Plan a strategy. Who will be there? (Someone you should meet?) Who is sponsoring the event? (Networking one-on-one with reps at the sponsor tables can be effective.) What is on the program and when? Should you use the first few minutes to look around and get acclimated then focus on a specific, small group? Will there be networking after the main event? (Sometimes people are more relaxed and chatty one on one after the main event is over.)

Smile and be gracious. Remember most people have been in your shoes. Everyone's shy at one time or another. A polite "hello" and self-introduction generally goes a long way to breaking the ice.

Marie Stempinski is the president and founder of Strategic Communication in St. Petersburg. She specializes in public relations and marketing, business trends and employee motivation consulting. She can be reached at or through her website at

Networking tips for introverts 07/01/12 [Last modified: Sunday, July 1, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus


    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park


    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers


    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers



    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]