I’ve never really thought of myself as an introvert. I’m quiet, yes, but it wasn’t until I took a Meyers-Briggs test online that I started to really identify with the hot new buzzword. It’s actually quite complicated. Being an introvert doesn’t mean that you’re shy.
In fact, introverts can be really outgoing. They enjoy spending time with other people – there’s just one catch. They prefer to spend time with people they already know. While an extrovert might go to a party to meet new people, an introvert goes to spend quality time with their close friends. This is so me!
As an entrepreneur, this can present a few challenges. We’re expected to put ourselves out there, network, and meet new people. For an introvert, that can be scary. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to mingle with other biz owners that won’t leave you feeling stressed out. If you have plans to attend a networking event like the Savvy Business Owners Conference, here are some simple ways to forge new friendships.
Do some research
Look up the attendees beforehand and see if you can connect with someone through email or social media first. Find a common interest and run with it. This is where introverts thrive. Being able to build relationships and connect on a deeper level is what we’re good at! If they’re local, offer to take them to coffee or lunch and get to know them one-on-one.
Show up early
Have you ever walked into a crowded room where everyone is already engrossed in conversation and you have no idea where to break in? Yeah, it stinks. If you arrive early, you have time to settle in and find a smaller group to connect with.
When you’re attending an event, be prepared with questions. Getting people to talk about their lives or their accomplishments takes the pressure off of you. Plus, introverts are great listeners. Just don’t forget to sprinkle in some things about yourself too!
It might feel weird, but rehearsing small talk can help you feel more comfortable when it comes time to introduce yourself. Call up a friend and run through some conversation starters. If you get stuck, own up to it. There’s nothing wrong with letting people know you’re nervous. I bet they are too and they’ll appreciate your authenticity!
Bring a friend
If you feel like you can’t go at it alone, find a friend to tag along for a much needed confidence boost. Even better if that someone has connections and can facilitate an introduction for you. Just don’t cling to that person all night!
Take a break
Introverts enjoy thinking and exploring their own thoughts and feelings. They observe a lot and take things in. They need time alone to recharge. If the event you’re attending is an all day thing, give yourself some time to be alone and gather your thoughts.
After the event, stay connected with the people you’ve met through social media or by sending an email. It can be as simple as saying you had a great time and hope to keep in touch.
Networking is vital to any business. This has been the hardest part for me. I know I’m supposed to go to events, connect with local businesses, or just pick up the phone and call people, but just the idea gives me butterflies. I’d much rather hide behind my computer! Still, it’s important to push yourself.
TAKE ACTION: Challenge yourself to attend one networking event a month. You never know when a chance encounter could change your business. Or better yet, host your own event! This way you can control the guest list.
If big, fancy events are not your thing, there are ways you can network online too. Find a FB group, like the Savvy Business Owners, with like-minded biz owners that you can chat with. Introverts are often good at writing too. You might want to seek out opportunities to guest post on other blogs. It’s also important to promote other people’s work. If you come across something that you love online, share it. If you attended an awesome event, write about it. Comment on blog posts that interest you. Just be sure that you’re adding value to the conversation. Don’t comment just to comment. Let the person know why you enjoy their work and why others would too. My last tip is to think outside of the box. As a photographer, I can create pretty pictures, but that’s not all I can do. I love teaching so I recently created an online course. This has allowed me to network in circles I never considered before.
The most important thing to remember about networking is that you don’t have to be loud to be successful. Being an introvert puts you in a unique position to connect with people in a meaningful way. Delight in the quiet part of you and build a business that suits your needs.
Are you an introvert? How do you network? Were these tips helpful? What’s one thing you can do today to get started networking?
I’m Stacy, a family photographer in NJ and self-proclaimed introvert. I’ve been in business for more than 6 years and recently discovered there are perks to being a wallflower. I’ve been writing a lot and even created an online course called Click & Capture Your Everyday where I teach moms how to document their lives with confidence and creativity. I’m a wife of almost 15 years, a mom to 9 and 13 year old girls, and fur mama to a pitbull rescue named Lady. I love shopping, sleep, sunshine, and chocolate – all of which I need more of in my life!