Networking as an introvert
I’m a text book introvert. Some may even say extreme. I’m so much of an introvert, that my phone is on DND, all day- every day. Talking to people is often a stressful, even painful, experience. So, I’m sure you can imagine the effect that networking events have on me.
In business school, we were required to attend many networking events, with the hope that we would make the connections needed to find employment upon graduation. Every time I had to go, my social anxiety was on 10. It was debilitating. Since then, I’ve learned some techniques that make networking a much more pleasant experience.
If you, like me, are an introvert and are tired of wasting your time and money attending networking events (because you don’t talk to people) – keep reading. Here are five tips I’ve learned to make networking a pain-free experience.
Why are you at this networking event? What are you trying to accomplish? Think about it. What would have to happen for you to consider the event a success? I recommend writing it down.
Thanks to my life coach, Eryka Perry, I have had a lot more success when it comes to maintaining habits that make my life run more smoothly. One of these habits is journaling. I journal every morning and night.
It may not be necessary for you to do it as often as I do- but journaling definitely helps me have more direction in my daily life. Journaling also makes it easier to notice the things I do on a regular basis that are beneficial and harmful.
Before your next event, I recommend writing out what you would like to happen so that you remain focused on your goals, motivated and remember that you are there for a purpose.
Another good thing to write in your journal would be the type of people you would like to connect with and why. Don’t limit yourself to potential customers. Brainstorm the types of people who would be good referral or joint venture partner as well.
Ask yourself, who is your target audience? Where do they go, what do they like to do, and what other services do they need? People who work in those spaces could be great partners for you.
Outside of referrals, you can partner with other business owners on social media. Doing a joint webinar or social media contest together can bring both of you new followers/ potential clients from each other’s audience.
3. Bring a friend
If you have a friend that is in a similar space or could benefit from the networking event that you are attending- bring them! Recently, I attended the Hope Global Forum at the Hyatt Regency with Eryka, who is also one of my dearest friends. Having her there made the experience so much easier for me for multiple reasons.
First, although she is also an introvert, she is much more talkative than I am. When she started conversations, I walked up and participated in those conversations and vice versa. She broke the ice for me.
On the other hand, I came over and chatted with her while she was waiting on the sidelines to have a conversation with a speaker (Matt D Clemmer)- which made her feel a lot less awkward.
Having a friend with you will also make you more comfortable at these events. People can tell when you are nervous or uptight. Being relaxed makes you more approachable and make speaking to people easier.
4. Go digital
I use a service called Popl to share my business information digitally. There are two ways to exchange information with this service:
The first method is by using a QR code. There are many services you can use, free and paid, that will direct your next connection to your website, email, and social media handles/ links. All you have to do is have them point their phone camera to the code and a link to all of your information will pop up. Make sure you have them fill out their contact information so that you can have their information too.
Popl can also send you a physical card, bracelet, or keychain that you can hold next to an NFT-enabled phne and the website will pop up on their home screen. I usually use this and default to using a QR code if the phone isn’t NFT enabled. By the way, if you’re interested in using Popl- you can get a 20% discount with this code: JESSICALATTEN
Pro tip: I use Zapier to create a zap that send my new connection’s information to my mailing list and another zap to send them an email to set up a discovery call. That way, I am maximizing and nurturing every new connection that I make. If you want to learn more about this, feel free to set up a call with me– I would be happy to share this tip with you.
5. Make them come to you
I don’t know about you- but I find it hard to walk up and talk to random strangers. Wouldn’t it be easier if you can make them talk to you? The good news is that you can!
The secret is to wear something that makes you stand out. This could be a unique hat, hairstyle, outfit, or even just unique patterns or colors.
Now, this worked for us because I do not work in corporate America (neither does she). I am a marketer- therefore I can get away with being less formal because I’m expected to be creative. Eryka is a chef and life coach- so she could get also get away with wearing pretty much anything she wanted to.
So, if you work in corporate America, make sure you take that into account. You might want to opt for a unique hat or a cool smoker’s jacket. It’s up to you- but this is your chance to be creative!
However, if you are uncomfortable with doing that, I totally understand. I promised everyone five tips so here’s a bonus:
Bonus: Remember- they are people too!
Sometimes we get in our heads about what we will gain or lose in our interactions with other people. Remember that everyone can relate to you on a human level. They put on their pants the same way you do. They may be looking at you feeling just as nervous as you are when you are looking at them.
I had a very personal conversation with someone at the conference who was dealing with custodial challenges. I was able to relate to him and provide value from the perspective of a person whose parents divorced and remarried at an early age. As a result of that interaction (along with others), we were ultimately invited to attend another attendee’s birthday party that night.
I’m not telling you that you need to share your life’s story with complete strangers but just remember that they are people- just like you. I’m going to tell you as others have told me- you’re an amazing person. Don’t take away other people’s chance to get to know you based on your own preconceived notions.
I hope this helps all my fellow introverts out there! If you are a business owner who needs help with marketing strategy, web development, social media content, or ads- I would love to talk to you!