I know, I know – I can hear you saying “girl, you’re all over your social media – how can YOU be an introvert?!” But it’s definitely true – multiple tests have said I’m 75% introvert, 25% extrovert. Either way, I chalk it up a bit to being an only child and spending a majority of my time alone, so that is my comfort zone. Just as most introverts do, I renew my energy doing things alone and basking in quiet, while extroverts light up being the center of attention and the life of the party. As an introvert, I thought I would have trouble being a successful business owner who has to network with people all the time. But I am here to tell you fellow introvert – nothing is further from the truth! Read on for my top 5 tips for networking in person if you’re used to being a wallflower!
It’s way easier to make cold connections online for me, rather than striking up conversation in a coffee line or at an event, which inevitably ends because of an awkward silence. My first piece of advice is to find groups of other business owners that you vibe with, and then looking for groups where your ideal client would be interacting as well. Both are critically important – you will lean on people who get the ups and downs of business life just as much as you will pour into your clients! Once you find these groups through social media channels or local chapters, commit to providing knowledge and encouragement where you can. Don’t be afraid to ask your own questions too – we’re all out here trying to make it remember? One thing I know for sure – it’s SO much easier to meet people in person if you’ve positively interacted online before!
Now this one is a process that takes months, years, really your lifetime to work through, but that’s the fun of it! To start the ball rolling, I definitely encourage you to take note of what loved ones, clients, and peers constantly say about you. If you haven’t done this before, I recommend you take 20 minutes in your work day and physically write down what you see as your strengths in terms of relationships and communication. Then, start brainstorming how you can use those traits to your advantage at a networking event. This will guide you toward what comes naturally to you, especially in the context of networking with new people.
For example, I noticed people saying that I was so easy to talk to, but I knew deep down that I never, EVER approached anyone new at events. Yet somehow I still left every event with at least one new card or Instagram friend. So, for the last event I attended, I decided to test the theory. I went completely by myself, and only knew one girl who was in charge of the event (therefore way too busy to chit chat with me). I walked into a room of close to 100 business owners, and got hot immediately. But I sat my bum down in a chair at a communal table near the photo booth, and guess what happened? If the line got too crowded, people started sitting around me and talking! No agenda – just talking to people who have businesses that they love and getting to know them. Battle through the 5 minutes you’re sitting by yourself – someone will approach you if you put yourself somewhere you can easily interact with other attendees!
If you’re not quite ready to venture out to an event all alone, find another business friend to go with you! I recommend someone who is a bit more outgoing than you are, or your hostess friend who is quick to do intros to other people at a party. That way, the ice can be broken more quickly and you can get to know new people knowing you have support with you!
Do you have a great coat that instantly makes you feel like a boss? Or a bright pair of fuschia shoes that you don’t wear often enough but love so much? Let’s face it: entrepreneurs don’t have many things to dress up for, if you’re at all like me. I rock a top knot and leggings most of the week behind my computer editing galleries and emailing clients.
So I have a couple of pieces in my closet that I pull out to make a statement, and basically facilitate someone more outgoing than I am to say “hey, I love your outfit!” Remember, use your strengths to your advantage! And if you ever see me in an orange jumpsuit or a multi-colored striped maxi skirt, you’ll know why 😉
Networking means nothing if you have no follow up to your conversation. If you get a business card, write down any extra details about that person that you connected with. Email a thank you and ask to meet for coffee to continue the conversation from the event. If you only exchanged Instagram profiles, post a thank you in your IG Stories and tag that person, and then follow their content and comment when you resonate with something. It’s truly about creating relationships if you meet someone that you enjoy, and opportunities will naturally unfold if you are a good fit to work with that person, regardless of you being an introvert by nature.
I am totally mentally exhausted after a big event, so I always plan something for myself to do completely alone the next day. That could be a coffee date with myself to read a book for an hour, a good movie, a manicure, or a long walk outside. If you don’t plan this time for yourself, I guarantee you will reach burnout a lot faster. Planning this time is essential to your own health, as well as the health of your business. If you’re depleted and not running your business, who is? Take care of you, in whatever way recharges you, so you can tackle the rest of your day and week.
Do you have any other tips that have been helpful as an introvert? Leave a comment below or message me on Instagram – I’d love to hear your tips too!
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