Networking can be intimidating and exhausting for the typical introvert. A person, who is more comfortable with close friends or alone, can get easily overwhelmed in a large group of people. Fortunately, effective networking is as easy as learning how to create a business plan. It just requires a different approach than what works for extroverts.
- Focus on building quality relationships, not quantity. The typical approach to networking is to go to large group events and meet as many people as possible. For an introvert, this can be downright torture. Instead of trying to meet a ton of people at a single event, look for individuals who are a good fit for your needs and get to know them. Have a goal to get to know 3 people. People respond much better if you are asking about them. Ask the event organizer for suggestions and introductions.
- Don’t stay in an uncomfortable situation if your energy starts to lag. If being in a large group drains you, recognize when you reach your limit and leave. You are not at your best when the only thought in your head is getting out of there as quickly as possible.
- Ask your friends, family, and contacts to help build your network. They may know people who can help you and your business. Getting an introduction to that person helps grow your network without the need to go hunting in a crowd. That person can teach you how to create a business plan or enter a new market.
- Use social media to network. Look for people in your community and connect with them online. With social media, you can engage and disengage as you have time and energy. When you are ready, you can make an appointment to sit down and talk in person.
- Take notes about anyone you connect with. Jot down names and impressions. If that person gave you a business card, make the notes on the back of it. Add that person to your contact database, along with your notes. This will help you in the future.
- Follow-up within 24 hours, if possible. When you make a contact, make sure you reach out to that person within a day of the initial meeting. A quick email or note can solidify the initial contact. Acknowledge your discussion and highlight what you took from it. Suggest having more discussion over coffee or lunch in the near future.
Networking doesn’t have to be a struggle, even for an introvert. How do you plan on expanding your network this year?