If you avoid networking events and dread making small talk, you aren’t alone. Studies show that one third to one half of the U.S. population has introverted tendencies. If you ask around, you’ll probably find that most people aren’t that fond of starting conversations with strangers. All you have to do is tap into your introverted strengths: solid listening skills, research and analytical savvy and preference for building deep relationships. And you’ll also have to step outside of your comfort zone.

Building new relationships is a necessary evil. Whether you are actively job searching or employed, expanding your network is an important step toward your professional success. Just look at the people you respect or admire. What actions did they take that lead to a new opportunity or opened a door? It only takes knowing the right people at the right place and the right time.

Try the tips below if you dread networking:

1. Learn about group events and prepare for them. First things first: You have to learn about upcoming events, such as conferences, professional association meetings and meetups. Ask people you know in your field if there are events they would recommend. The more focused the networking group, the more likely you are to encounter people you have something in common with. READ MORE AT U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT

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