It’s not an uncommon challenge that L&D directors face — you have a team member who just won’t open up, who’s terrible at building relationships with clients and who you really can’t send out into the world, to an event to represent the company. These individuals are weak links on your team, but they don’t have to be. With the right coaching, these colleagues can learn to overcome their aversion to networking, both to the benefit of their own careers and the company.

These are some very simple tips you can pass along to those who are rough around the edges, but could really be stellar employees when you just help them overcome their inability to socialise.

Arrive Early

Arrive early to networking and other events, so that it’s only you and a few people. Before everyone has paired off and started their own conversations and it can be hard to weave your way in, you can strike up a conversation with the only options there. Plus, once others begin arriving and see you deep in conversation with others, the law of social proof will make it look as if you’re someone definitely worth talking to.

The Lost and the Lonely

It’s just a fact — you’re not going to be the only shy or unsocial person at any event or gathering. Find those other folks who feel your fear and band together. Strike up a simple conversation about anything at all — the food, the atmosphere, the theme of the evening — and then lead into an introduction and a simple question about what they do. Ask them a few questions about themselves and you soon have a talking buddy for the rest of the night.

Convenience Chats

There are plenty of times in a day when you’ll have extra time to chat with someone who’s doing nothing but waiting — when you’re in line for coffee, in line for dessert, in line for the bathroom. Take advantage of their boredom and strike up a conversation.

The Social Pitch

Once you actually start a conversation, make sure you have already rehearsed what you’d like to say about yourself. Generally, the best place to start is with your name, your generic job title which people will be able to easily understand and what you’re known for or do. With that last bit, it’s often a good idea to add some kind of hook — make it interesting, even if you have to embellish on just how cool you are, so that it starts the conversation going.

Keep it Up

Don’t just think that if you do the above well at one event, that you’re set for life and can abandon all rules. Becoming a naturally social and engaging person takes time and practice. Make a plan to talk to three new people every day, five days a week. Talking to strangers and starting up conversations will become easy.

As you continue on your quest to help your team members develop into the best versions of themselves, consider adding our latest webinar to your training materials. It’s as easy as clicking this link, which sends you straight to the on demand video, a convenient resource to add to your arsenal of employee development.