Networking tips for introverts
Can you remember which movie these two words were said in? I’ll give you more hints…
The author was on a delayed train ride from Manchester to London when she got the idea to write the book. She sat as all the details bubbled up in her brain.
And this scrawny, black-haired, bespectacled boy who didn’t know he was a wizard became more and more real to her.
She wanted, so badly, to write these details down as she knew they would slip off her mind, but to her immense frustration, she didn’t have a pen that worked and she was too shy to ask anybody if she could borrow one.
And exactly six years later, she had finally completed the first of the eight part series.
But then, after all the hard work, when she presented it to the first publisher, it was rejected. And the same thing happened with the second and the third and the fourth publisher.
It must have been terrifying to walk up to publisher after publisher and get rejected, especially for someone who was so introverted they couldn’t ask a stranger for a pen.
But she did it, and at the 13th attempt, she was successful.
The Sorcerer’s Stone hit shelves in July 1997, to immediate success. Overnight, Rowling was catapulted from her small apartment in Edinburgh to worldwide recognition.
Lessons to be learnt
Introverts are said to be more creative, have more effective leadership, and are less prone to impulsive behaviour.
But can find it tough to network. However when it comes to business, you’ve got to put yourself out there. And you have to put on your big pants.
You have to gather the courage to ask for that pen from a stranger. And you have to be okay with walking from one publisher to the next until you finally get a ‘yes.’
Remember, it doesn’t matter how many times you fail. You only have to be right once.
For introverts, networking can be one of the scariest things to do. But you have to push yourself. Networking is one of the most affordable ways to grow your business, make meaningful connections, build confidence, raise your professional profile and get advice.
6 networking tips for introverts
1. Connect with people before the event
Walking into a room where everybody knows everybody except you can be daunting!
You probably feel sidelined. You won’t get the inside jokes. And for a short period, you’ll feel out of place.
But, that fear shouldn’t stop you.
If you want to get a head start, connect with people before the event. Find out who the regulars are, look them up on social media and connect with them.
Through this, you may even find out some things about them that could make conversation-starters.
If you’re in the right networking group, you’ll almost instantly feel a sense of belonging. And by connecting with people beforehand, you get a sense of what that group is like and if it fits your needs.
2. Prepare beforehand
Stage fright is a really common occurrence. Very few people are 100% confident when they’re put on the spot.
Even the most famous and successful people suffer from it. From Adele to Mahatma Gandhi, Katy Perry, Rihanna, and even Andrea Bocelli, it’s normal.
But what makes stage fright bearable is proper preparation. Before you walk into any networking room, prepare yourself as much as you can.
Come up with a list of the things you want to talk about. If it’s a business pitch, you need not memorise the exact words, but come up with a few pointers.
Create possible conversation starters. The more intel you have about the people in that group, the easier this will be for you.
When you do so, it’s a lot easier to calm yourself down, because what’s the worst that could happen?
If you get nervous or forget what you want to say, you’ll have a place to refer and eventually get back on track.
3. Bring a wing man
If you REALLY dread walking into a networking event by yourself, this is the ultimate hack.
Go with a friend.
Someone you’re already comfortable with who can motivate you to actually get on with it.
There’s just something about having at least one familiar face in the room that makes you less apprehensive.
Bonus points if the person wears their heart on their sleeves, and isn’t shy. By observing them, you’ll slowly start to see that starting conversations with strangers isn’t actually the hardest thing to do.
4. Set achievable goals
By the time you choose to go networking, you’ve probably understood all its benefits.
As an introvert, you have to be realistic. You have to ease yourself into the process.
You can’t go in expecting to make 5 new meaningful connections. It just won’t happen.
Maybe your first goal should be to start a conversation with a stranger. Then, next time, it could be to ask someone for a 121.
Rather than going in and collecting 25 business cards which will do nothing but overwhelm you, maybe go with the intent of having a genuine conversation with two people.
Set yourself this small, but meaningful goal and celebrate your accomplishments once you actually do them.
5. Try online networking
In-person networking is probably more daunting than online networking. Having to physically go to a stranger and make conversation can make stomachs roll.
Thankfully, we live in a digital era, and there are many platforms offering virtual networking.
Online networking comes without the complications of arriving and attending at a venue. And for introverts, that may be a good thing. Networking online is probably a better option for introverts. And this is why…
Everyone is behind their screens, and you don’t have to worry about things like body language and making eye contact.
You’ll have more time to actually think about your response before saying it, and this will help you to be more composed and thoughtful.
Through online networking, you’ll also have access to a much wider networking, all at the comfort of your home or office.
That said, it’s important to find a balance that works for you, since online networking also has its own unique set of challenges.
6. Look for other introverts
“We’re all naked underneath.”
If you look deeply within, almost everyone gets the jitters when they’re asked to speak in front of a crowd. Many people would rather just remain unnoticed.
One of the handiest ways to psych yourself out of your introversion is to look out for fellow introverts.
And it’s easy to spot them. They’ll probably be standing at the edge of the room, or sitting by themselves in a corner.
If you go in with a “I’m sure this must be terrifying you as well” or something along those lines, you’re sure to gain a friend.
As a business owner, you sometimes just need to put on your big pants and do what scares you the most. Networking is one of the things that, if explored properly, can offer numerous benefits for your business.
In summary, the 6 networking tips for introverts are:
- Connect with people before the event
- Prepare beforehand
- Bring a wingman
- Set achievable goals
- Try online networking
- Look for other introverts
Last year, I wrote an ebook with 16 top tips to network like a pro. Shortly after, I won networker of the year. In this ebook we go into the 16 things that can strengthen your networking skills. Download here.