Networking is hard. But if you are an introvert, it is way harder. When everything inside of you screams “I don’t want to!”, how do you get out there, create necessary connections to expand your network?
As an introvert who moved to a new country with no previous connections to start with, I’ve learned a lot about the necessity of networking. And I adopted strategies that work great for my personality as introvert. Here are my 7 favourite networking strategies for introverts.
1. Find your own style
For years I’ve been trying to follow other people’s rules and guidelines, just to end up overwhelmed and exhausted. But when I gave myself permission to be myself and network my way, it became much easier to reach out to new people and stay connected. Even as you scroll through the tips and ideas below, keep in mind that what works for me, doesn’t necessarily have to work for you. Pick and choose what is a good fit and implement it into your own approach. Feel free to leave the rest.
Doing the research before your meeting, setting the expectations and preparing your questions in advance will help you manage the expectations, connect with the right people and guide conversations like a pro. You will know exactly what to ask, why and when to end the meeting, which is absolutely key to feeling confident at the event or meeting. To take it up a notch, you can even make a list of opening lines to use at networking events or conferences.
It not only helps you look more confident, but it also makes you more approachable at the events. Putting a smile on your face will be your best accessory at any event. Give it your best effort and people won’t even know that you are an introvert. They will WANT to connect with you because you seem to be a positive person.
4. Find a buddy
Everything is easier once you have a buddy in the room. You can support each other, push one another to make yet another connection, even complement each other as you speak to other people.
5. Less is more
If you are an introvert, walking away with 2-3 meaningful connection from each event will take you further than trying to push it and have 55 business cards in hand after the event. You will feel more connected and the follow up will be much easier. Focus on quantity – the right connections, the right information, the follow up techniques, and so on. Numbers can be misleading. Quality is over quantity.
6. Ask for introductions
Some of the best connections I made are people who were introduced to me through existing contacts. Introductions make networking much easier and warmer. Here are couple questions to help you move in the right direction:
- Who do you already know? Identify your introducers, key connections who can help you kick start your networking efforts.
- Who do they know that has the challenge you solve? People usually know at least one person who has similar challenges. Just get clear on what problem you help resolve or what benefit you offer. The more specific you are, the easier it will be to find the right person to connect with.
- Who is your best client? What type of people do you want to connect with? Who should your friends be introducing to you?
7. Reach out before the event
This is probably my best strategy. It works every time. Usually people show up at the events, meet people and follow up after. To set myself apart and make attending events easier, I decided to flip this strategy around. I now reach out to people I want to meet before the event sending them a quick email or message on social media to let them know that I’m coming and I’m hoping to connect with them for at least couple minutes. This strategy removes the hassle from trying to find the person, because now it’s both of us looking for each other. It positions me differently as there are already people in the room who know about me and it just turns networking into a breeze. Plus, way less people reach out to decision makers prior to the event, which means that my emails are not getting lost in the huge amount of emails these people get after the events they attend.
You don’t have to be an extrovert to have a strong network. Take your time, put in an effort, be intentional about what you do and how you do it. Be yourself, but challenge yourself to take your existing connections to the whole new level and meet new people who can either introduce you to others or help you grow your business.
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