How to Network When You’re an Introvert
I’ve gotta say—now is the time for us introverts to thrive! We can hang out on the internet and make connections while sitting in sweatpants and avoiding eye contact with the neighbors. We can have our own businesses that allow us to be in a comfortable space and grow at our own rate. I’m tellin’ you, it’s time to embrace those qualities! I’m an introvert through and through. Although when people first meet me, this surprises them. I promise, I’m usually faking it anytime I seem comfortable in a crowd.
Don’t know if you’re an introvert? Here’s a few signs:
You enjoy spending time alone
You talk to yourself a lot (inner dialogue, anyone?)
Being the center of attention isn’t your jam
You like to people watch
Parties aren’t your favorite, you prefer a small-group-chill-vibe situation
You may prefer to write out your thoughts than speak
I used to get bummed out at my introverted tendencies, because it’s so easy for the other side to get out and about! But that doesn’t mean we can’t succeed too, my introverted friends. Heck, famous people like JK Rowling, Meryl Streep, Rosa Parks, Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt were all introverts! Also, there’s a lot of cool stuff about us, even if we’re not the one telling jokes at a party (or we may just choose to miss the party all together…)
Here’s are a few things you should be proud of if you’re an introvert:
You’re probably creative! Being in your head all the time leaves a lot of time for brainstorming and thinking about how to improve situations.
You’re a good friend. We all have that friend that loves to talk and tell stories and talk with their hands—you’re probably the perfect balance for them with your great listening skills and calm demeanor.
You’re independent. You don’t need people or things to make you happy! You know what you want and you’re able to be present.
So, what does all of this have to do with networking? You know I had to pump you up before sharing the hard stuff, right? Networking can be really intimidating for anyone, but especially introverts. It’s a push-and-pull of knowing the event may bring you business while the debilitating fear of going up to someone you don’t know can really bring a mood down. This is something I’ve always struggled with but I promise you, it does get easier with time.
Here are few tips I’ve written down for myself that I hope will help you too:
Comment on a fellow business owners’ blog or social media post! Make sure to take time in what you’re saying (a string of emojis doesn't count). Since not a lot of people write out thoughtful comments about the actual post, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Bring a friend with you! Try not to just stick together and not socialize but view the friend there as a back-up buddy in case you don’t have anyone to talk to or if the event is a total bust.
Go to the event with the goal of talking to just one person at the start. Once you’ve done that, give yourself permission to leave (if you feel like you #canteven). Gradually increase this number with each event you attend!
Network one-on-one rather than attending more formal events. Sometimes it’s the large group of people that freaks us introverts out. If you want to connect with someone, ask them to grab coffee with you. This way, you already know who the person is and what they do, so conversation should flow a bit easier.
Remind yourself that you’re just as important as anyone else there, no matter your credentials or skills or education. In the end, we’re all humans just trying to figure life out.
Take it as an opportunity to get work out of meeting the right person at an event! Personally, nothing makes me more pumped than a healthy bank account.
At the end of the day, when you’re clear on your goals and find a way that will help you achieve them, stay close to that! Your introverted tendencies are not detrimental to your business and your goals, they’re actually a beautiful part of you. Be honest with yourself and create boundaries for you, then continue working on breaking them!