Businesspundit has a post on networking for introverts.
So you're really not much good at networking. You keep a drink in one hand and the other in a pocket. You stand against walls. You avoid direct eye contact. You pretty much suck at it and since you suck at it you hate doing it. You're constantly standing around trying to look pretty and hoping that someone you're interested in meeting will come and talk to you.
It's interesting to watch the dynamics at a networking event. I've attended many but there's often a sense of being disassociated from the main conversations. The worst are the hard sellers.
The Hard Sellers: These guys are there to pitch. For the most part they're talking to themselves. Whenever I'm near a hard seller I'm tuning them right out and trying to scrape them off my shoe asap. The Hard Sellers listen little and talk much. They've done this and that and would appreciate it if you validate their existence by doffing your cap.
I hate that and respond poorly to it as most people probably do.
Poor networking is usually cause by embarrassment and fear of rejection... hey , it's just like dating. (Here's my eminently readable post on Horizontal Networking)
I have a good friend Chia in NY who's a photographer. She's about 4'8" and 73lbs (I'm 6'3" and 260) Chia used to be an actress before she became a photographer and now she's the most sought after actor photographer in Manhattan.
Chia lives down in the Flat Iron district (The triangle shaped building in Spiderman). A boxing gym opened up next to her building and Chia thought it would be great exercise to take up boxing. (Here's her boxing photography)
Interestingly, the gym owners thought this was kind of cool so Chia hired a trainer and started hitting a heavy bag. It was a scene straight out of Million Dollar Baby except that Chia was much shorter.
Of course Chia never actually wanted to fight. In fact, the gym ordered her a pair of pink boxing gloves which, I have to say, were really cute.
Anyway, Chia hit like a girl. She'd prance around and make 'hitting' noises while she punched at the air.
Chia wanted to be more serious. She wanted to move and hit like a boxer, not like a girl. When she talked to her trainer he looked at her like she was as stupid as a bag of hammers. "Chia", he said, " Just act like a boxer." That was it... Chia knew how to act and she was a boxer after that.
The point being: It's always something you can act through. If you're not a great networker... act as though you were.
Works for me.