Introvert? Me? Yes, can you believe it? Well, folks who know me would absolutely disagree, but until I get comfortable in my surroundings I tend to play the part of a wall flower. I only start to bloom when I feel like it’s safe to come out and play.
What I am describing is the true behavior of an ambivert, a word I only recently discovered. The dictionary describes me (ambivert) this way:
Ambivert – a person whose personality has a balance of extrovert and introvert features.
Years ago, I learned some techniques to help me overcome my awkwardness about networking from Brian Tracy, Motivational Speaker and Self-Development Author of over 70 books. These techniques have helped me overcome some of the struggles I have acclimating to networking in a new setting much quicker.
I recently shared these tips on the Live in 30! Facebook series. You can view the videos on the 30 Second Success Facebook page or visit the 30 Second Success YouTube page and watch all the networking tip videos and other great videos in the Live in 30! Series that are recorded weekly.
As Brian says, “Introverts can actually network more effectively than extroverts. An extrovert might think he or she can simply show up and make connections, but an introvert is probably more inclined to be prepared and have a sense of whom to make those connections with and how to go about it.” Here are a few things we can learn from introverts who network like no one knows:
Prepare ahead of time.
-Review who will be attending. If you can’t see the list ahead of time, connect with the event host and ask for introductions to people they think would be good for you to meet. Be sure to share a little about yourself and the people you are looking to meet so they have time to think about it. They will most likely have already mentioned you, before you even show up.
-Set your goals for your conversations ahead of time. Know what questions you want to ask the people you meet. Prepare yourself for the types of questions you might receive and think about how you might answer them.
-Prepare mentally. Think about the people you want to meet. Know what you will say when asked, “What do you do?” (We can help you with this if you struggle with a simple one-line sentence that engages your audience.) Bring business cards and your calendar and think about inviting people to have coffee with you in a location that might be more comfortable and relaxing to you.
Find a buddy.
-Bring a friend or someone you’ve met recently to attend networking events with you. The conversation in the car will help distract you from the butterflies in your stomach. Be sure to let them know your struggle, they will help you through it.
-Feed off their energy. When engaging in conversations together, you can bounce your comments off theirs and vice versa. This gives the impression that you collaborate with and support others well, people love that!
-Stick close until you get a little more comfortable. They can be that safety net you need when you start to feel overwhelmed if the room feels like it is getting too crowded. Retreat and talk with them one on one when you need to gather your thoughts. Then when ready, re-engage with the group.
-A smile is easy to adopt and to share. A smile is warm and inviting and often time it is enough to break the ice. Others are drawn to a warm and friendly face. Who knows, you might even attract the other introverts in the room.
Think of yourself as being welcome.
-Being welcome simply means that you were invited by someone in some way for the simple purpose of connecting and expanding your network of potential referral partners and prospects.
-Everyone is there for the same purpose and they most likely understand how you feel and will make an effort to include you in conversations when you let them. Their goal is to be friendly and to connect, so do the same.
Ask, listen, and ask again.
-Ask great questions, practice your listen skills, follow-up on their respond with clarifying questions, and turn it right back to them. Make them feel like the center of your attention , if they interest you of course.
Here are some additional tips that you might find helpful:
- Consider starting the conversation. Think of how grateful they will be when you do.
- Stay in the moment. Stay present in the conversation. Ask questions and truly listen for the answers.
- Pick the right events. Small relaxed events may be more comfortable to start out. Focus on events you will feel most comfortable and at your best. Work up to larger more strategic events as you gain confidence with networking.
Be sure to set your goal for the gathering and prepare ahead of time. Give yourself the gift of time and the buddy system to prepare you for the benefits of building great relationships through networking.
At 30 Second Success we help business professionals and sales teams understand the benefits of building a strong network that will grow your business. If you are ready to “Ditch the Pitch and Start Connecting” schedule a call today.