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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. Ask Questions
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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. Follow Up via Email
Following up with contacts through email is a crucial step after a networking event or gathering. An effective follow-up email can help solidify the connection, making the initial meeting more memorable. Here are some tips for crafting a meaningful follow-up email:
- Personalize the Subject Line: Reference your meeting or conversation. For example, “Great to meet you at [Event Name]!”
- Express Gratitude: Start the email by thanking the recipient for their time and the insights or knowledge they shared.
- Reintroduce Yourself: Remind them of who you are and the context in which you met. This helps in case they’ve met several people at the event.
- Reference a Specific Detail: Mention a particular topic or aspect of your conversation to show that you were attentive and genuinely interested in what they had to say.
- Provide Value: Share an article, a resource, or some information that might be beneficial for them or relates to your conversation.
- Suggest a Next Step: Whether it’s setting up another meeting, a phone call, or simply connecting on social media platforms, provide a clear action step.
- Keep It Concise: While it’s essential to be thorough, try to keep your email short and to the point. A long email can be off-putting for some.
- Use a Professional Signature: Ensure your email signature contains your full name, position, company, and other relevant contact information.
- Follow Up Again If Necessary: If you don’t receive a response within a week or so, it’s okay to send a polite follow-up to your initial email.
- Stay Authentic: It’s essential to be genuine in your communication. Avoid using generic templates without adding a personal touch.
Remember, the goal of the follow-up email is to reinforce the connection you made and lay the groundwork for a future relationship. Being prompt, relevant, and sincere can go a long way in establishing a meaningful rapport.
16. 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.
17. 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.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. Leverage Online Networking Events
In today’s digital age, many networking events have migrated online. This format offers introverts a chance to interact with others from the comfort of their homes, minimizing the stress of in-person social interaction. Virtual networking can range from webinars and online conferences to digital meetups in your industry. Make sure to actively participate in discussions and take initiative to connect with attendees and speakers.
22. Take Advantage of Online Forums and Communities
Online communities and forums such as Reddit, Quora, and industry-specific platforms offer a wealth of opportunities for networking. Introverts can leverage these platforms to engage in in-depth discussions on topics related to their business. This allows for a deeper level of engagement with others and the opportunity to showcase expertise in a particular area.
23. Invest in Personal Development
Introverts might find it beneficial to invest in workshops or classes that improve communication and public speaking skills. Such personal development can help boost confidence, making networking experiences more manageable and less draining. Additionally, online courses offer the flexibility to learn at your own pace.
24. Embrace Your Introverted Traits
Introverts bring a unique set of qualities to the networking table, which can be beneficial in creating meaningful connections. Rather than trying to mimic the extroverted way of networking, it’s essential to recognize and utilize the strengths of an introverted personality. Here’s how:
- Value Deep Conversations: Instead of aiming for a large number of shallow interactions, focus on a few in-depth conversations. These can be more memorable and foster stronger connections.
- Leverage Listening Skills: Introverts often excel at active listening. When you genuinely listen, you make the other person feel valued, which can lead to trust and a solid foundation for a professional relationship.
- Observe and Reflect: Use your observational skills to pick up on details others might miss. Mentioning these details in conversation can show your attentiveness and interest.
- Prepare Thoughtful Questions: Since introverts tend to think before they speak, consider preparing a few meaningful questions in advance. This can lead to richer discussions and show that you’re genuinely interested.
- Choose Smaller Settings: Rather than large networking events, opt for smaller, more intimate settings where you can have one-on-one or small group conversations.
25. Use Technology to Stay Organized
For more systematic networking, consider using contact management software or digital tools. These resources can help track your networking contacts, interactions, and follow-ups. Regularly updating and reviewing this information can ensure a consistent and effective networking strategy.
26. Mindfulness and Stress Management Techniques
Networking can sometimes induce stress or anxiety in introverts. Incorporating mindfulness techniques like meditation, yoga, or simply taking quiet time before and after networking events can help manage these feelings. A calm, focused mindset can enhance your networking experience.
27. Develop a Networking Strategy
Before attending networking events, formulate a clear strategy. Knowing what you want to achieve, who you want to meet, and which topics you want to discuss can help navigate these situations with less anxiety. A clear plan provides a sense of purpose and direction, making networking less overwhelming.
28. Networking Books or Resources
Invest in resources designed to help introverts network effectively. Books, podcasts, and online courses can provide valuable insights and practical tips on networking. Some popular choices include “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain and “Networking for People Who Hate Networking” by Devora Zack.
Networking Tips for Introverts Checklist
|Take Advantage of Social Media|
|Consider Using Apps|
|Connect with Industry Organizations|
|Look into Alumni Associations|
|Make It Easy for Others to Reach Out to You|
|Reach Out to Existing Contacts|
|Make One-on-One Connections|
|Bring an Existing Contact to Events|
|Practice a Short Pitch|
|Have a Goal in Mind|
|Arrive at Events Early|
|Carry a Conversation Starter|
|Volunteer at Events|
|Follow Up via Email|
|Invite People to Your Activities of Choice|
|Don’t Force Connections|
|Connect with Other Introverts|
|Host Special Events|
|Keep Your Networking Schedule Light|
|Leverage Online Networking Events|
|Take Advantage of Online Forums and Communities|
|Invest in Personal Development|
|Embrace Your Introverted Traits|
|Use Technology to Stay Organized|
|Mindfulness and Stress Management Techniques|
|Develop a Networking Strategy|
|Networking Books or Resources|
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