Networking For Introverts 3 1

how to get the best out of networking as an introvert

Networking as an introvert can be uncomfortable. Yet we all know that growing our network is the best way to grow our business. How do you balance the anxiety and the necessity to build relationships and create a solid business network? 

First of all, let’s address the stereotype. Not all introverts like to sit in the corner and avoid people. According to the Merriam Webster definition, an introvert is someone who “gains energy through solitude and quiet” – basically someone who needs alone time to recharge their batteries. They’re not necessarily shy or bashful people who avoid big crowds (although that can be true). Many introverts can still party with the extroverts, but instead of thriving from the energy, the need downtime afterwards to recharge their batteries. 

The business world is dominated by the extravertiest of extroverts, big personalities leading the discussion. But for every Alan Sugar there’s a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, introverts leading businesses that change the world.

So, how do they do it? How do they create global companies as an introvert? The answer is that they play to their strengths.

networking as an introvert

In honour of National Introverts Week, we’ve put together some top tips to make networking a little easier for all of our introverted members and friends.

1. play to your strengths

As a society we need to stop thinking of introversion as a negative. Introvert traits are incredibly valuable in business. For example, your quiet nature can be a cover for problem solving abilities and the fact you don’t often speak without thinking is pretty great for building solid relationships.

You’re also more likely to be effective, active listeners and perceptive thinkers. This means you are good at really hearing what someone is saying and can pick up on cues that others may miss. You might not be as ‘loud’ as some others in the room but, when you do contribute, the chances are it will be valuable and respected.

Top tip: Be authentic. Taking the time to understand and working out what makes you feel uncomfortable about networking is so important. Once you are aware of what it is, you can take steps to address the challenges.

2. be prepared

A bit of prep before a networking meeting helps everyone feel more confident, but is especially important for an introvert.  Practicing your introduction to make sure it is absolutely spot on (and you’ve added in some stories to hook in your listeners) is vital, as is having a working knowledge of the types of people you might be meeting. Never be afraid to ask for the invitee list where possible.

Being nervous about meeting others and worried about conversation drying up can increase the anxiety about networking. Having a handy list of icebreakers and open questions up your sleeve can help alleviate these feelings and ensure you have an effective networking experience with minimum awkwardness.

Top tip: Online networking gives you more opportunity to have a list of prompts available. Make sure that you’re not looking down all the time by putting the list at the top of your screen, beneath your camera.

3. find the right group for you

Networking comes in all shapes and sizes and what works will be different for everyone. If the thought of walking into a room of 200 strangers fills you with dread, try networking online in small groups instead. Having a relaxed chat with a handful of other people and just spending a bit of time getting to know them, rather than feeling the pressure of selling yourself and your business, is not only a more effective long-term strategy for doing business, but less stressful and more enjoyable, too

Emma Cossey, coach and owner of The Freelance Lifestyle, a hub of practical advice for freelancers, is a self confessed introvert. She says: “You need to network in a way that works for you. There are so many ways to network now that are introvert-friendly.

“I like that meeow does online networking for up to four people, so not quite as overwhelming. There’s also Netwalking and other netwalking events let you chat while you walk, which if you find eye contact tricky, can be brilliant.”

Top tip: don’t be afraid to try everything. Some styles are not going to suit you, but there are so many networking groups out there that will let you come along for a guest session or a free trial. You’ll know when you find the one that fits perfectly!

If you’d like to find out more about networking in small groups on meeow, then sign up for our 14 day free trial. Or just login and book your next meeting today.

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