When networking, get outside your comfort zone as in go right ahead and attempt things that scare the hell out of you, but which DO NOT paralyse you.
For instance, my comfort zone is watching someone bungee jump. Or hang glide. Anyone who knows me, knows that height is my nemesis. I swear I pee in my pants when my feet aren’t firmly (and safely) planted on ground level. Or, at the very least, I cuss like the most foul of potty mouths. When I tackle rock climbing at the gym, I’ve left that zone. My heart’s racing. I’m frightened but not petrified. And adrenaline’s coursing through my veins. Pushing me through. Leaving me with a sense of immense achievement and satisfaction. Then there’s that thing called rappelling. A technique that allows you to do a controlled descent down a rope from a cliff. Rappelling scares the hell out of me. I’m not exaggerating. That’s beyond outside my sanity zone and would, more than likely, leave me a trembling, incoherent babbling mess.
I repeat. Get out of your comfort zone, but stay in your sanity zone.
For instance, host your own in-person events. I know, I know. It might seem contradictory that someone who dislikes in-person events should host in-person events. But it isn’t. Many introverts feel more comfortable when they have a defined role within a group. Many performers are actually introverts in that they feel fine on stage, but miserable trying to mingle with a crowd.
Events don’t have to be fancy. They can be held at home. Or at a venue which doesn’t see a lot of business on weekday evenings, preferably with private rooms. Plenty of places won’t charge if they know you’re bringing in paying customers. Figure out something that works for you. Tell everyone you invite that they’re welcome to bring someone, but ask that they let you know ahead of time who their guest is. Look up these people, do a little research, so when the event happens, you’ll know virtually everyone there.
All those new people?
They were introduced to you in a context in which you were the most important person in the room, and that’s the best possible way to meet people. It takes the pressure off you, which lets you shift your energy toward being a kind, charming, magnanimous host. And network successfully, productively. Even if you’re an introvert.