Are you an introverted entrepreneur who has been avoiding networking like the plague? I know exactly how you feel! Speaking from personal experience, networking for introverts can feel so uncomfortable. It basically goes against everything that is our personality type.
But, networking is a proven strategy for growing your business or finding remote jobs. So, even though you might feel uncomfortable networking with new people, the value of it can’t be expressed enough!
That’s why I wanted to write this blog post. As an introvert myself, I have done a lot of work to become more comfortable networking both at in-person events and online. And now I want to share everything I have learned with you. I hope that this will help you become more comfortable networking!
Why Is Networking Important For Business?
Networking is an important part of business, no matter what your niche is. It can help you create new opportunities, make new business relationships, and help your company grow. That means networking for introverts, even introverted entrepreneurs is incredibly important.
Why Is Networking Important For Finding A Remote Job?
If you’re looking for a remote job opportunity, is also very powerful since you will be meeting potential employers in a relaxed, unofficial environment. This gives you the opportunity to really show your personality. Plus you can use this casual conversation to find out how someone feels about having remote employees, if they understand all the benefits, etc.
If you have ideas for how they can more seamlessly transition to having remote employees, this can also be a great time to talk about that.
Why Is Networking Hard For Introverts?
Unlike extroverts who love networking, networking for introverts is hard because of our personalities.
For example, introverts need time alone to recharge their energy. Plus they often do better in small groups of people with more meaningful conversations lighthearted chit-chat about the weather or sports scores. This is the exact opposite of what happens at an in-person networking event. At these in-person events, you’re typically stuffed into a room with hundreds of people all engaging in small talk, (which we hate), and having to put yourself out there.
If you’re an introvert reading this, I can almost guarantee you’re thinking to yourself that this sounds like a nightmare. And that’s because for us, it is!
Networking literally goes against every aspect of our personality.
As a result of these personality traits, many introverts find it difficult to initiate conversations with strangers when they are out at networking events, and even conferences or workshops which are also great for networking.
How To Network As An Introvert
But, with all that being said, there is SO much value in being able to network. And dare I say, it’s even possible for an introvert to enjoy networking as long as they know how to do it in a way that matches their personality type. And that’s exactly what I am going to share with you in the next section.
But first, I want to talk about the two different types of networking you can look for. Both are great for introverts as long as you respect your comfort zone and boundaries!
#1 – Networking Events
If you haven’t actually tried out networking events yet, it’s time to get started!
Networking events are a great way to meet new people and build relationships that could lead to career or business opportunities down the road. Plus, despite what you might think, there is a way to attend these networking events without becoming completely drained.
If you’re not familiar with networking events, they are gatherings where people come together to talk about things like business, career growth and development, etc. You can find many networking events on Facebook, Meetup, or Eventbrite.
And there is a wide variety of networking events you can attend including:
#2 – Online Networking
If you don’t have a lot of time or live in an area where networking events aren’t that common, then it’s still possible to build up an impressive network online. It might take longer than meeting in person and exchanging business cards, but social media platforms like LinkedIn make it easier than ever to connect with professionals from around the globe.
Some places where you can go to network online include:
- Facebook Groups
Networking For Introverts – 5 Useful Tips
Now that you know where you can go to start networking, I want to share some of the things I have learned over the years. These things help me build more meaningful connections, maintain my energy, and have even helped me find a way to love networking as an introverted person.
Tip #1 – Have An Introduction & Questions Prepared In Advance
There’s nothing wrong with a little bit of preparation, especially when it comes to networking. If you have an introduction and questions prepared in advance, you can focus on listening more than you do talking. This will make it easier for you to connect with others because you won’t feel like you need to say something every second, which is often the case when we’re nervous or anxious about social interactions.
Tip #2 – Spend More Time Listening
Listening is one of the most important skills for successful networking. The more you listen to others, the more people will want to talk with you! Plus, as an introvert, it’s a lot easier to maintain your energy when you’re listening instead of talking!
When someone does approach you, make sure that you’re fully engaged in the conversation—don’t just wait for them to finish talking so that you can say your own piece. And if you’re having trouble being fully present in conversations, try asking questions. Questions are a great way to focus on listening because they force you to listen closely to what people have to say and keep them talking. People love talking about themselves, so ask questions like “What do you do?” or “How did you get involved in this industry?”
Tip #3 – Expect Some Awkwardness
As an introvert, you might be worried that you’re the only one in the room feeling awkward. But trust me when I say, you’re not! It’s normal to feel awkward at networking events! Even extroverts report feeling awkward at these events.
So, when you go to networking events, don’t expect to feel completely comfortable right away. Instead, think about what you can do to help yourself feel more relaxed and comfortable in these situations. For example, many people find that taking a few deep breaths can help.
One of my favorite things to do is scope out a room when I walk into it. I will look for tables with food, brochures, and anything else that catches my eye. But I won’t go and look at these things right away. I will usually wait until I need a break or have an awkward moment where I’m not apart of any conversations to go and look at these things. This gives me a few moments to take deep breaths, relax, and ground myself again.
Tip #4 – Manage Your Energy
Networking for introverts can be hard because it will drain a lot of your energy. So, when you’re networking, it’s important to think about how you will maintain your energy throughout the event. Some ways you can do this include:
- getting some fresh air or stepping into another room
- drinking water (avoid alcohol if you can)
- avoid large groups of people
- find someone where the conversation flows instead of it feeling too forced
It’s also important not to get carried away by talking too much. If someone asks you a question, give them a brief answer before asking them something back. This will help you maintain your energy levels.
Tip #5 – Find Your People
You may find that you enjoy networking with certain people more than others. Most of us do! So, if you’re at an event where you don’t feel comfortable, try to identify your ‘people’ and go and talk to them.
For me, these people are the ones who are in the quietest areas of the room, or the ones who tend to only be apart of 1:1 conversations instead of group conversations.
You might be surprised by how much more you enjoy networking if you focus on finding your people at the events!
Bonus Tip – Choose Networking Events That Appeal To You
Honestly, you won’t love every type of networking event. And you definitely won’t learn to love them if you’re forcing yourself to go to every networking event.
Instead, focus on the ones that work for you.
As an example, I do much better at mixers than I do at luncheons because at a mixer, I can:
- get some fresh air when I need to;
- step into a quiet area of the room;
- wander and look at the tables when I need to ground myself;
- find a one-on-one conversation that flows well.
At a luncheon, I feel a little bit more stuck where I am which usually leaves me feeling drained.
Now, this might not be the case for you. There are no rules when it comes it networking for introverts. But my point is to try a few different networking event types, both in-person and online, then focus on going to the ones you enjoy the most.
How Can Introverts Learn To Love Networking?
As I’ve said, networking for introverts can be hard. But it’s also possible to find a way to love networking.
Here are some ways you can learn to love networking as an introvert.
Focus on the journey, not the destination. As an introvert, you likely know how much more comfortable you feel when you’re in your comfort zone (aka alone). One way to get over this fear is by focusing on how much fun it will be once you meet new people and make connections at events or conferences.
Attend events where you’re comfortable. As I said above, you will not be comfortable in every networking atmosphere, and that is okay! Find the ones you do enjoy and just focus on those.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help! When I go to a networking event, sometimes I will try to find myself a “buddy”. This is usually someone I have identified as “my kind of person”. Then, I will suggest we stick together. You’d be surprised how many other shy or introverted people will be completely relieved when you suggest this. And it’s a great way to build strong connections with someone. (It’s an even bigger win for you if your “buddy” has been to these events before and can introduce you to people they already know.)
I hope you have found this blog post helpful!
Networking can be a difficult skill to master, but it’s also an essential one for introverts and extroverts alike. So, I hope these tips will help you start building your network and making connections with people who can help make your dream a reality.