5 networking tips for introverts
Introverts unite…separately, in our own homes
Networking is not an easy or natural thing for most introverts, but it is something that most of us as entrepreneurs need to do. In the end, I’ve found the results of networking to be really rewarding. I’ve met helpful colleagues who have helped me make my business better, people to partner up with on projects, new clients and even made a few friends.
So how do you make networking a little easier?
Here are a few networking tips for my fellow introverts:
1. Go online
Networking online can be a great option for introverts. Try groups for your profession or local groups. Facebook and LinkedIn can be good places to start.
Online groups can be a stepping stone to meeting in real life too. It can be so much easier when you have already made a connection chatting online!
2. Take a friend
Bringing a friend along lets you have at least one person you know in the field of strangers, so it can really help to make you feel more comfortable. Grab that one extrovert friend if you can. They’ll introduce you to everyone!
3. Find the right event
If you are planning on networking in person, choose your event carefully. My first in person event involved a big open room with a large group of people. The organizer told everyone to go and meet one another. It was so awkward and impersonal. I couldn’t have told you anything about anyone after the event, but I got a lot of business cards. This was definitely not the right event for me.
My latest networking events have both involved food and drink. I find it so much less awkward to meet people when standing across a table from them, or asking them to pass the coffee. Plus, the organizers have emphasized making connections rather than meeting everyone.
How do you find the right event?
Check out the event websites. See what the organizers have to say about the events. Are there any comments from past event goers?
Look at any pictures they have of their past events. This will give you a good idea of the tone of the events. Is it formal or more casual? What are people doing in the pictures? This will also help you know what the dress code is like for the event.
4. Embrace your introverted nature
You might be surprised to know that networking like an introvert can actually be a positive. While it’s easier for all those extroverts to meet everyone at the event, we are good at connecting with people one on one. We’re generally good listeners and inquisitive by nature.
So ask questions and be interested. Remember that the quality of your connections are more important that the quantity. Also remember though, that connection means having to share information about yourself.
Which brings me to the last tip…
5. Be prepared
At some point you are going to have to talk about yourself. Before you go to a networking event think about what you want to tell people about your business. What do you do and who do you do it for? What makes your business special? Have you done an interesting project lately?
While networking may never be the most comfortable thing for an introvert, these tips can make it a little easier. So get your business cards, head out, smile and get connected. And remember, everyone there wants to meet you and hear about your business!