Introverts are those who tend to spend a lot of time focused inward rather than seeking out constant input from others. This personality trait is very well suited for certain types of business opportunities. However, networking with others doesn’t always come naturally.
Networking for Introverts
If you’re an introverted entrepreneur or are thinking about jumping into the business world, here are some networking tips specifically for this type of personality.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Today, not all networking needs to take place in person. Sign up for accounts on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to connect with others in your industry or city. Just make sure to actually follow and message relevant people, rather than simply posting and hoping others come to you.
Consider Using Apps
There are also apps and services out there that can help you connect with others who are looking to network. For example, Bumble Bizz is a platform for professionals to connect on their mobile devices. Then you can decide to meet in person or connect elsewhere online.
Connect with Industry Organizations
Connecting with others can be easier if you have an organized body behind you. If you join an industry or trade organization, you can more easily find ways to connect with other members and then break the ice by talking about your shared experiences within that particular group.
Look into Alumni Associations
Many colleges also have alumni associations or organizations that connect past students. This helps you make connections with people you automatically have something in contact with.
Make It Easy for Others to Reach Out to You
If you want to make connections online, you need to be proactive. But you may also make some connections by allowing others to come to you. Just make sure you very clearly display your contact information on your website, blog and social media accounts so people know you’re open to connecting with them. You might even include a little blurb on your site about how you’re open to networking with others in your area.
Reach Out to Existing Contacts
The people you already know can be a wonderful resource for making new connections. Be sure to nurture those relationships and stay open to those people introducing you to other contacts they have within your industry.
Make One-on-One Connections
Huge networking events with tons of people can often seem a bit intimidating for introverts. Whether you’re attending such an event or just visiting at a local chamber of commerce function, it can seem less daunting to focus on just talking to one or two people at a time. This will often lead to deeper and more memorable connections anyway.
Bring an Existing Contact to Events
You might also feel more comfortable starting conversations if you know at least one person around you. Invite a team member or another business contact with you to networking functions so you’ll be more likely to make genuine connections.
Practice a Short Pitch
People at networking events will almost always ask what you do. Instead of stumbling over your words or wondering what to say, practice a very short elevator pitch so you’re well prepared to respond.
Have a Goal in Mind
Though not all of your networking functions need to be about closing deals, making these connections should serve your business in some way over time. If you have a goal in mind for why you need to network, it could help you stay focused and motivated throughout an event.
Arrive at Events Early
It can be tough to break into conversations once people have already arrived and gotten comfortable at a function. For introverts, it may be easier to arrive early so you can get comfortable at the venue and start conversations with small groups before everyone arrives.
When you’re not sure how to start or move a conversation forward, questions are almost always your best option. People love talking about their businesses and accomplishments, and it may help you learn something valuable.
Carry a Conversation Starter
Another great way to start off conversations is to wear or carry something that might provoke comments from others. Wear a statement piece of jewelry or a pin that relates to a college or industry organization. People may complement your look or tell you they went to the same school, which can then allow a conversation to flow more naturally.
Volunteer at Events
If you don’t love attending networking or industry events, you might try working at them instead. It gives you a bit more structure and plenty of opportunities to interact with the attendees.
Follow Up via Email
After you meet people at events or gatherings, make a point to send them a quick email afterward. You can also connect with them on social media or attempt to make plans with them in the future.
Invite People to Your Activities of Choice
For those who want to avoid huge events whenever possible, consider inviting people you meet through previous connections or even those you connect with online to another type of in-person gathering. You could go out for coffee or even hit the links for an afternoon.
Don’t Force Connections
People often hate networking because it feels forced or not authentic. However, once you start connecting with people, you might find that it comes fairly naturally. If a particular conversation doesn’t feel that way, don’t beat yourself up. Just wait for a polite out and then move onto another opportunity.
Connect with Other Introverts
Introverts may have a bit more success when connecting with others who share those personality traits. If you’re at an event, look for people standing by themselves around the periphery of the room. You might be able to relate very well to one another and feel more comfortable starting conversations.
Host Special Events
If you don’t love the networking opportunities you’ve found at events around your community, start your own. You’ll have a built-in excuse to talk to people and you can focus on building your ideal guest list.
Keep Your Networking Schedule Light
Introverts tend to feel a bit drained after spending a lot of time talking to others. As such, don’t fill your schedule with tons of events and in-person meetings. Give yourself enough time to spend on your own, recharging and evaluating your business goals.