by Elaine Slatter | Featured Contributor
We think extroverts have it easy when it comes to networking at business events, but the truth is networking for introverts isn’t that hard if you follow these simple tips.
Networking Is A Conversation, Not A Sales Pitch
If you are a friendly person, even if you are an introvert, it’s not hard to find opening phrases to start a conversation such as:
My name is xxxxxxx and I’m from xxxxxxx, and you are?
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
This is the first time I’ve been to an event put on by xxxxxxxx how about you?
I love the events that xxxxxx has for xxxxxxxxx business owners, what do you think?
Have you attended many of these events before? Are there others that are good?
Would you like to exchange business cards? (This is a segue into many different topics)
If you walk into a room and you don’t know anyone!
Yikes, this one is the scariest for most people. If there is a bar, it is a good idea to head that way because a lot of people congregate around the watering hole.
Next, look for groups of more than 2 but no more than 4. Why? If you see two people talking together, they might be having a private conversation and you don’t want to interrupt. In a group of 3 or more, they are more likely to be having a general conversation.
When approaching a group already in a conversation, wait until there is a natural break in the conversation before you introduce yourself. It also gives you an opportunity to listen to the conversation ahead of time so you can add something intelligent.
If this is your first time networking and you are feeling nervous, take a wingman (woman) with you to the event. The wing person acts as a recommender of you and your work and helps ease the way for you to naturally enter a conversation. Once you have attended that first networking event, the wing person can help you de-construct the event and clear up any questions you might have.
Have A Purpose To Your Networking
This could be approaching someone you would like to invite as a speaker to your own event. It might be making a connection with a person from a particular company. Possibly people to interview on a podcast etc.
Quality Not Volume Is The Key
Networking for introverts isn’t that hard when you think that at an event getting four great connections is fantastic and 20+ is usually spammy (business card drops). Four meaningful conversations are better than 20 random sound bites. Once you’ve started a conversation, it isn’t that difficult to keep it going.
Don’t Drop Personal Bombs
Now an introvert isn’t likely to tell the world about their 5 job losses, 6 failed relationships, their domineering MIL etc. but just in case, keep that stuff under wraps because it simply doesn’t make a good impression
Good News About Networking For Introverts?
One of the top skills for being a great networker is to LISTEN. Yup, introverts have that in spades because they would rather listen than speak, putting the focus on other people rather than themselves.
Wear Appropriate Clothes for the Event
Business casual is the norm for most events, but since that covers a lot of ground, it’s sometimes hard to figure out what is appropriate. Now introverts, don’t go out to every event dressed head to toe in black so you shrink into the background! Ladies, you can make a statement, wear interesting and colorful jewelry, a bright purse or shoes and maybe a sharp color spray in your hair. Why? It makes it easy for people to comment on your appearance and start the conversation with YOU.
Use Networking Events To Develop Relationships
Business is a transaction between people. We buy from people we know, like and trust and we recommend people the same way. Meeting people is therefore at the top of your ‘to do’ list. If you do it right, it will be the beginning of a great network of people who will become your tribe.
Following Up After A Networking Event
You are in luck here because by far the best follow up tool is LinkedIn. So this makes networking for introverts even easier because it means linking with people through LinkedIn via email and connecting with them one on one for a coffee, later. Isn’t that great? Remember to ask the person if they are on LinkedIn and if you can connect with them through that platform.
What Is The True Difference Between An Extrovert And An Introvert?
An extrovert gets their power from the energy of everyone around them. After a networking event, they are the ones that want to carry on, go for a coffee, out for drinks etc. they don’t want to leave the party. On the other hand, the introvert gets their power from within themselves. They like to go out, but afterward, they would just as soon go home, put on their jammies and chill with a book. So who are you? An introvert or an extrovert?
When you are networking, it doesn’t matter what kind of personality you have, as long as you take the time to network well.
Elaine Slatter is a Small Business Expert, founder of XL Consulting Group and author of the popular book, “Fabulous Fempreneurship”, a complete business guide for women. XL Consulting Group helps entrepreneurs with market planning, strategy, branding, web design and social media. She has over 30 years of executive business and marketing experience and is ready to help you rocket your business to success. Elaine is passionate about mentoring women to become successful women entrepreneurs. To find out more, visit XL Consulting Group or join the Fabulous Fempreneurship mastermind.