An Introverts Guide to Networking
Networking is a skill like any other. Some have it naturally, some have to work really hard at it; and like any skill, even with lots of work, people can still be bad at it. For those of you who are introverts like me and really struggle with networking, take heart. There are some simple things you can do to improve your networking skills and reduce the obstacle that you must overcome.
The first tip I am going to give you is really the easiest and fastest way to improve your networking skills. You will need to first try as hard as you possibly can to procure yourself a C-level position at a multi-million dollar company. I know it sounds like a crazy concept, but I found that once I became the Chief Marketing Officer at one such company, my networking skills went from zero to hero nearly overnight. All of a sudden people were reaching out to me asking to connect, asking my opinions on things, and asking for help. It was just incredible. What's even stranger is now that I am no longer the CMO of a big company, my skills seem to have reverted the other way and people have disappeared on me; Strange, right?
Ok seriously. There are things we introverts can do to network effectively even if we are not big-time executives or my favorite LinkedIn job title, Key Note Speakers. Here are just a few tips I’ve tried over the years that have helped me.
Go to networking events
I am a big believer in meeting people face-to-face. I know as an introvert it goes against everything we in the introvert community stand for, but, face-to-face is the best way to meet people to forge real connections. Sure it’s much easier to send batch requests for connections on LinkedIn, but those connections rarely turn in to something real. At events where you meet people you are forced to look people in the eye and engage with them. I know that us introverts can be awkward when speaking to people face-to-face and it is something I worry about myself when talking with others but that is all in our head. Get out to events and make an effort. It will pay off and the more you do it, the better at it you get.
Schedule time to check in on those in your network
If it sounds unnatural to have to schedule yourself to remember to call to check in on people then you probably are not an introvert. For the rest of us, take the time to set reminders for yourself to check in. These check ins don’t have to be long drawn out conversations about the highs and lows of your life to date. Just enough to find out what your contacts are up to in their lives and to let them know you were thinking about them.
Actually care about the people in your network
This one is not just for introverts, but really applies to everyone. Your network does not exist to provide you things when you need them. Sure it is great to have connections and yes we do turn to our networks for business solutions and help, but make sure you are not just reaching out to people when you need something. Your network should be about making real connections with people and not just about what that person can possibly do for you.
Attend Charity Events
Charity events are a great way to not only meet new people, but they help you give back as well. I have met tons of people over the last several years at charity events from all different business backgrounds and fields. For introverts charity events are great because you have something in common to talk about right away with new people you meet, the charity. You find at charity events that you’ll meet people from outside your own field because charities draw people from everywhere. It’s far different than attending your industry events where everyone you meet does the same thing. I am a big fan of charity events both for giving and to meet new people.
Get involved in mentorship programs
Whether you mentor others or you seek out a mentor, get involved in these programs. You can pass on your knowledge to others or get help with skills you need to improve. Either way, you will meet new people and again for us introverts, have an easy way to get conversations started since you are meeting new people with a purpose.
Well those are some of my tips that have helped me a bit over the years to overcome my introverted nature to get out there and meet new people. I’m not always successful and it’s a regular challenge for me, but I’m out there trying. If you are an introvert, I’ll tell you the same thing. Just get out there and try.