Networking for Introverts

When most people think about chambers of commerce, networking is what comes to mind. And they’re right. Every event we host is meant to be a place where business owners and leaders can connect, chat and form new friendships.

But what if networking makes your palms sweat, your mouth dry up and leaves you feeling exhausted? What if you’re an introvert?

Relax. As your Member Support Coordinator (and an introvert myself!), I’ve got some suggestions.

Just go with it

My first tip is to work with what you’ve got. Introversion comes with certain superpowers that can be great for business. Embracing your introvert self should be the goal. This article on reminds us how important this is. When we try too hard to be something we’re not, that’s when we run into burnout, frustration and exhaustion.

Play to your strengths

Speaking of those superpowers, let’s look at the strengths that come with being an introvert. First, we’re great listeners and love deep, meaningful conversations over mindless small talk. So forget about the idea of empty hellos and surface-level chit-chat with as many people as possible. Instead, play to your strengths (and preferences) and try to make one or two meaningful connections.

Some tips for better conversations: talk about things other than work (make it personal if it feels comfortable to do so), pay attention to detail (another introvert superpower!), look for similarities (“I’d rather be at a bookstore with a latte right now, too!”), and show your interest by asking for advice (“these events can be tough for me. What’s your best networking strategy?”).

Good relationships (whether at work or at home) should focus on what you can offer. As noted on, rather than looking at networking as an opportunity to get a new client or business deal, come to the event with a clear picture of what you bring to the table. How can you help someone else? This is a great way to be seen as valuable and to foster connections that matter.

“This kind of relationship, rooted in authenticity and mutual respect, often leads to unexpected and lucrative opportunities,” says this great article on “Word-of-mouth referrals, strategic partnerships and collaborative ventures tend to naturally flow from these genuine connections.”

Come prepared

Spend the night before an event thinking of conversation points, both questions and things you’d like to mention about your work. Reflect on your business goals. And be informed! Subscribe to a daily e-newsletter that gives you a quick hit of current events, listen to a newsy podcast or hone your pop culture knowledge. Having popular topics to mention helps ensure the conversation doesn’t hit a standstill.

Arrive early so you can scope out the place and avoid having to enter a bustling room. It’s easier to start a conversation when there are just a handful of other early folks, which gets the experience off on the right foot. Arriving with a friend is even better.

And if you can, try to have some quiet time before heading out (and downtime when you get home).

Keep the conversation going

A lot of the stress around small talk is the fear that conversation will hit a standstill. The excellent blog has tons of tips to keep the conversation going. One tip I love is FORD – Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams. The first three are great for small talk; the fourth is where the magic happens. “The really interesting conversations are about passions, interests, and dreams,” states the Social Self. Introverts? This is your moment.

Look for distractions

Some events might include fun games or activities. These are a great way to take a break from one-on-one conversations and simply mill around where things are happening without needing to engage. I like to call it “relieving introvert exhaustion.” Jackpot if there’s a silent auction! You can browse the items while getting some recharge time, removing yourself from conversation while still being a part of things.

After the event

Even if you’ve only collected two or three business cards, be sure to follow up the next day. Hopefully those deeper conversations you had can lead to further talks later. And another tip – let them do some of the networking for you. Ask them if there are people they know that you should meet, and politely ask for an email introduction. (And remember to try your best to do the same for them!)

In between networking events, look for other ways to get involved. Volunteering at a Chamber event (we always need volunteers for our golf tournament!) or other industry initiatives give you a controlled environment with tasks and expectations that you can focus on. You’ll also likely meet other like-minded people. With any luck, you’ll see some of these familiar faces at the next event, who can then introduce you to others.

Do it yourself

If you’re a Chamber member, guess what? You can host your own event! Having people into your space gives you home field advantage and can make you feel instantly more comfortable and confident. If you think you might like to host a Business After Hours networking event at your place of business, give us a call!

Networking doesn’t have to be torture. Be yourself, lean into your strengths, and do a bit of prep work. Making even a few meaningful connections can have far-reaching effects.


If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact Amy, Member Support Coordinator, at