Networking When You’re An Introvert – 5 Tips That Will Help You To Love It!
Business networking is an amazing way of getting your name out there and building relationships with like-minded people and potential future clients.
To many people, I may seem very confident and bubbly but the fact is that I am a total introvert (although I must just be quite good at hiding it!). This means that the idea of networking used to fill me with utter dread!
According to introvertdear.com, an introvert is:
“… someone who prefers calm, minimally stimulating environments. Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone. This is largely because introverts’ brains respond to dopamine differently than extroverts’ brains. In other words, if you’re an introvert, you were likely born that way.”
Being an introvert isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They tend to be better listeners than extroverts and pay closer attention to detail.
However, when it comes to marketing themselves and networking, things can get difficult.
I went to my first networking meetings about 5 years ago when I was running the singing school company, Vocademy but I hated it (I would feel sick with nerves each night before!) and after three or four meetings I stopped going.
When setting up as a VA, although my clients can come from all around the world, there are many business owners in the North East who might benefit from my support, so I decided to start networking again a few months ago, with a different approach.
Below are the tips I’ve learnt that have made me not just endure networking, but grow to love it!:
1. Try a few different meetings
I’ve been to various meetings and have liked some much more than others. Different meetings will have different formats and vibes so make sure to try a few.
The ones I went to back in Brighton were mainly open-networking (which I found incredibly daunting) and most of the people there just kept trying to sell me Forever Living and Juice Plus products.
The mistake I made was thinking that all networking must be the same and so I simply stopped going!
2. Go to a meeting with structure
Informal or open-network meetings are the ones where you simply turn up, grab a coffee and work your way around the room, talking to different people for an hour or two. It’s basically an introvert’s worst nightmare!
These types of meetings are fantastic for extroverts but if like me, you’re an introvert, you may get much more out of your meetings if you attend ones with structure.
Structured meetings tend to go like this:
1. Arrive, grab a coffee and open network for 15 minutes or so (not so bad)
2. Everyone sits down and does a 60-second presentation about their business
3. Main speaker – This will involve either a member or guest speaker talking about their business or doing a talk on things such as marketing, social media etc (some of these are really useful).
4. End of meeting – This is the part when you can either leave or stay and open-network for a little longer.
I love structured meetings because not only does the thought of walking up to strangers fill me with dread, but the 60-second presentations mean that I can listen to everyone one-by-one. Walking up to them after this during the open networking isn’t nearly as daunting because you already have a small sense of familiarity.
3. Prepare what you’re going to say
Preparing what you’re going to say, not just in your 60-sec presentation but also during your open-networking times will help you feel and appear much more confident.
4. Arrive early
Walking into a room full of strangers can be very intimidating. Arrive early so you’re one of
the first people there. It’s much easier to start a conversation when there’s only a couple of
people around and you’ll not feel as nervous when the room has eventually filled up.
5. Practise makes perfect
Like everything else, you’ll get much better with business networking the more you do it. Keep working on your presentations and conversations and in time, you will be a kick-ass confident networker!
Keep an eye out for my next blog – My Favourite North East Network Meetings