How to Network as an Introvert
I talked about the importance of sales in a recent article. Basically, my point was that they should be a priority for many (if not all) business owners and CEOs -especially in the beginning.
I also argued that the way I grew Jakt in the early days was not through some groundbreaking marketing strategy.
We didn’t use Facebook ads. Or PPC. Or Youtube ads…
And, for the most part, we still don’t.
I just went out and talked to people. I met with them and found out what they needed. What their problems were. How I could add value and help. And, if my company could help them, great! If not, I’d introduce them to someone who could.
I’m simplifying, but you get my point. (Click here to read the whole article.)
That post received some interesting feedback from entrepreneurs who are struggling with doing just that.
It doesn’t come naturally to them to meet with other people and “network.” They think of themselves as introverts.
Funny thing, I do too.
Many people are surprised when they hear this. But let me tell you, I LOVE my alone time and really dislike groups of people.
So I totally understand how that can seem like a daunting task. But I do want to share my strategies as an introvert to not just overcome that –but use it to my advantage.
Before we get into that, let’s really understand…
What does it mean to be an introvert:
Having an introverted personality is not about being shy. Or quiet. Or reclusive.
I’ve heard them all before. But, to me, being an introvert is much more complex than simply withdrawing yourself into a quiet room like a hermit in rural Nebraska.
Sure, as an introvert, I love being alone.
And yeah, being in big groups drains my energy. I personally don’t like being around them. I gain this energy back by being by myself and doing my own thing.
But, on the other hand, I’m good at communicating one-on-one with potential clients, for example.
And I’m more than fine leading meetings with my team.
The point is, there’s a spectrum to intro and extraversion. I consider myself an introvert with extroverted tendencies. But let’s not assign cliches to either side.
At the same time, your personality does affect how you should be…
Networking as a business owner
If you’re a business owner, you need to sell. Period.
But, many introversion-oriented business leaders have a tough time creating organic relationships through networking.
The thing is, it’s not that you can’t do it. It’s that you’re not approaching it from the way that will give YOU results.
You have to custom-tailor it to your strengths, and then capitalize on them.
When I first started Jakt, I was told over and over again that I should go to large networking events. That I should go to these big conferences and push business cards through people’s throats.
If you’re saying “fuck that, I’m not doing that”…
Well, don’t do it then. Seriously. Do what comes naturally to you.
I found that I built much closer connections with people one-on-one rather than attending every networking event to meet hundreds of people at once.
That’s just not me, so I don’t do it.
There are other ways we introverts can network…
Why not just email someone you want to meet and invite them out for coffee? Or video chat with someone if you’re remote? Or connect with them first on social media and start a conversation?
I do all of these. All the time. And have been for years.
Instead of wasting time, effort, and energy on doing shit that makes you suffer, start…
Playing to your strengths.
Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, know what you’re good at and what you like. And triple down on that.
If you’re an extrovert, great. Use that to your advantage. Go meet all those people at networking events. Just remember that you still need to make a deeper connection.
And if you’re an introvert, take a more selective approach. Build this connection one-on-one –it doesn’t matter. In the end, we’re both accomplishing the same thing.
But doing it the way it comes naturally to you will make you achieve more results without hating every second of it.
Self-awareness and being uncomfortable.
Don’t get me wrong:
You have to meet people.
And I’m not saying you should stay recluded in your comfort zone –all warmed up under the blankets.
Yes, be self-aware enough to know what you like and what you don’t, and what you’re good at and what you’re not.
But also, strike the right balance between embracing your strengths and doing things that may make you a bit uncomfortable.
Let’s say you’re at your city’s WeWork and you hear a couple of people talking. What do you do?
You can stay quiet and mind your own business. And, honestly, as an introvert, that’s our first reaction, right?
But, if you have something valuable to add, make yourself uncomfortable.
Jump into the conversation (the timing has to be right and what you say and how you say it has to be right otherwise it will come off weird – but that’s out of the scope of this article).
Build a connection, add some value and maybe even help them out. You never know which stranger can be your next client –talking from experience here!
Networking as an Introvert Takeaways:
- Being an introvert doesn’t mean you are a shy or that who can’t talk to others. It’s about what gives you energy and what drains you.
- Play to your strengths. If you’d rather network over coffee, via Skype, or even Twitter, do it! What works for other people doesn’t have to work for you. Tailor your approach to what comes naturally to you.
- Be self-aware to know what you like and what you’re good at, but also be okay with being uncomfortable and placing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Try shit out.