I am an introvert, someone who values her alone time. Someone who would much rather observe and listen than be the center of attention. I enjoy social settings, but over long periods of time they can become draining and unappealing.
A successful business is built on the basis of networking and making connections with others. How do you establish a good network when putting yourself out there and making connections is something you shy away from.
This is a common question. So I have created some simple tips that have helped me and others overcome the barriers of successful networking as an introvert.
- Internet Presence
One of the first things you should do as an introvert is create a thriving online presence. There is far less pressure behind meeting people online versus meeting individuals for the first time in person. The best way to go about establishing an online presence is through a website and attract traffic through blog posts. This allows people to get to know you without the pressures of first impressions.
A website gives you the chance to eloquently display your credentials and let your expertise speak for itself. Your website is the foundation to build your reputation without all the added anxiety that may go along with interacting with strangers in social settings.
- Social Media
Supplementing your website with social media presence is crucial to attract clientele. How does this benefit introverts? Well social media allows introverts to critically think, process and publish. Much more time can be put into designing and strategically crafting writing words, unlike social interaction when conversation is on the spot. The delayed time helps eliminate that level of uncertainty that comes along with putting yourself out there in the world.
Yes, it may take a small leap of faith to start posting and putting your content out there. But once you establish your brand and find your target audience, publishing content will get increasingly easier.
- Making Connections in Person
One thing I should mention, is that before you embark on your networking journey you must answer some important questions. Why is your goal for networking? This is your starting point. Next ask yourself what are you trying to accomplish, who is your intended audience and who what influencers are already established in this field. Answering these questions sets the stage for success when networking.
Okay so now you’ve made some connections with people online. This is when you take yet another leap of faith, reach out and request to meet in person. This can be something simple like coffee or lunch. If you see someone you follow posting about an upcoming conference coming up that you also plan to attend, reach out and request time to meet them during the event.
- Attending Conferences
This brings me to the next step, ATTEND CONFERENCES. Yes, I know standing around making small talk with people for an entire day seems like an introverts nightmare. But, a few simple steps can ease the unattractiveness of conferences.
Conferences are when a large group of people with similar interests come together and network. It’s of interest to you and your brand to make time at least once or twice a year to attend a conference or similar event.
So before you go to that conference reach out to your connections through social media. Having just one person you know can really make the difference.
Next, see if the conference releases a list of those attending or at least the speakers presenting. Research these individuals, note 1-2 things from their social media and or Linkedin accounts and use these to help spark conversation. Lastly for an extra cushion for comfort, create a list of 2-3 universal conversation starters and talking points. These will help with those awkward pauses in conversation and help facilitate a connection.
Random networking tip: add yourself in your phone as a contact. Include all your credentials and contact information. If you for whatever reason did not have business cards on you, you can now easily airdrop your “business card” to new people that you meet.
- Take the Initiative
When meeting new people the goal is to make a good impression. It’s important to focus on conversation that has depth and not width. Small talk is never really memorable, especially when you are talking to numerous people at a conference.
Introverts are great at listening. But make sure the conversation is worth your while and a good use of your time. Don’t be afraid to take the lead and steer the conversation away from those typical drags about weather or politics (unless this is your expertise, then talk away).
- The Follow-up
After a conference or initial meet up for coffee, always be the first one to follow up.
This can be a simple email or direct message thanking the person for their time and that you hope to collaborate with them in the future. In place of collaboration, you can add in ASK request. This shows your genuinely engaged and value continuing the relationship.
- Connection Over Comfort
In a general sense, as an introvert it can become very natural at time to resort back into your comfort zone. You thrive here. It’s your safe zone, your peaceful state. But every once in awhile it’s important to step outside your comfort zone.
Be comfortable speaking up and participating in conversation and events despite the agonizing desire to withdraw from the social scene.
Continue to show up, be engaged and you’d be surprised how much potential you truly have.
In a place of vulnerability growth and innovation is born.
Contrary to the above, it is important to be kind to yourself. Each day, or each week, set out to try something new. Reflect and learn from the result.
Find a good balance that works for you. Don’t overstimulate yourself. Listen to your body and make sure you prioritize that much need alone time.
Understand what recharges you after a long socially stimulating day. Some common things are spending time in nature, reading, sleeping and yoga/meditation.
- You are not alone.
Introverts are commonly misunderstood people. We are often given a hard time over the fact that we often enjoy solitude over social interaction. The reality is, that is OK. Being different is an advantage. Sometimes fitting in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Difference = opportunity for change
No you may not be like everyone else, but that is your superpower, not your kryptonite.
To start your networking journey, share this post on your social platforms and start interacting with your followers.