I think we can all agree that networking isn’t always easy, whether you’d consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert. Those awkward conversations that seem to have no end, the long, drawn-out pauses … if you’re cringing right now, I know you understand what I mean.
Regardless of how you feel at networking events or meetings, here’s the deal: Networking is a crucial part of owning a business. And if you’re an introvert, it may require you to take a big leap off the diving board of your comfort zone to immerse yourself in environments full of new faces. Is it scary? Yes. But it’s also the key to continuous business growth. Here are four quick ways to make networking as an introvert work for you!
Would you prefer to get settled at an event before jumping into the whole “talking” thing? No worries! Start by simply listening. Get to know people by giving them the opportunity to share what they’ve been working on. You may even pick up a few helpful tidbits from them that benefit you in your own business! Read this post for five tips to step up your active listening game.
Always, always, always do your homework ahead of time. Trust me, it’s a whole lot easier to jump into a new space when you have at least a small idea of what to expect. Find out who you might see at each networking event and prepare some conversation starters. Use a few of my favorite icebreakers or come up with your own!
- Have you done anything exciting lately?
- Tell me about the business progress you’ve been making!
- What’s something you’re looking forward to?
- Have you learned anything new recently?
Put your phone away (you can do it!).
You know how it goes … you’re feeling awkward at an event, so you find a corner to escape to and immediately pull out your phone. I’m not judging you at all—that mid-event phone-grab is way too tempting. But if you’re looking down at your phone, hidden away from the crowd, how many people do you think will approach you to start a conversation? Zero. Zip. Nada. You came here to connect with people, so put the phone down and start connecting!
This is probably the most important tip I can give you. The way you present yourself at networking events matters … so, smile! Seriously, just be friendly, and I promise it will make a world of difference. Even if you don’t feel extremely comfortable, you can at least let people know you’re open to having a conversation by giving off positive vibes. Put out good energy, and it will always come back to you!
Here are a few last words of wisdom to keep in mind before you get out there and start networking like a pro:
- Speak positively to yourself before, during, and after networking events.
- Be present in the moment.
- Follow-up with people you made connections with after the event is over (read this article to learn how to master the art of the follow-up).
- Nobody is judging you as harshly as you think they are.
- We all get nervous and self-conscious sometimes. Take a deep breath and know that you’re not alone.
Bottom line: Don’t sell yourself short. Being introverted doesn’t mean that you can’t establish meaningful business connections. In fact, you just might be better at it than you thought, so use my tips and give it a try!
Set goals for your next networking event—and then, make them happen! Read this post for a little goal-setting inspiration.