“How to Make Networking Easy for Introverted Business Owners” Guest blog post written by Lori Bumgarner, M.Ed., Passion & Career Coach at HPMG partner company, paNASH
Are you a business owner who understands the importance of networking to grow your business, but find it awkward? This can be true for many business owners, especially for those like me who are introverts.
So how can you make networking less awkward and even enjoyable in a way that both grows your business and fits your personality?
Below are seven tips to follow. But these suggestions aren’t just for introverted business owners. Extroverted business owners can also benefit from putting some of these tips into practice!
#1 Start with who you know
It’s always easier to talk with someone you already know. So when you’re getting the word out about your business or your latest product, start with folks you know! These acquaintances are typically genuinely interested in what’s new with you and your business.
Invite some of your colleagues and your strategic partners you know really well to attend community networking events with you. Be sure to take with you someone who’s an extrovert so they can introduce you to the new people they’ll easily meet there.
#2 Have your contacts give a “heads-up”
When friends and colleagues refer you to a potentially great contact, ask them to let their contact know ahead of time you’ll be calling or emailing him or her.
This gives the person a “heads-up” and it will be clear why you’re contacting him or her
#3 Email before calling
If the thought of making cold calls makes you shiver with dread, instead start by sending an email or connecting with potential contacts on LinkedIn.
This approach is less intimidating and it allows the other person to respond at his or her convenience.
#4 Develop talking points
It’s smart to know what you want to talk about before aimlessly engaging in conversation.
Decide ahead of time which questions you want to ask and what points you want to make. (Stay tuned for my next post on the right way to develop an effective elevator speech!)
Also, always frame your conversations with small talk. Start and end your networking conversations with small talk and have the middle part of it be about business.
As an introvert, you may cringe at the thought of small talk since most introverts don’t enjoy it. But as long as you have the “meaty” business conversation sandwiched in between the small talk, you’ll walk away feeling more satisfied.
#5 Network during your peak time of energy
Extroverts seem to have a ton of energy any time of the day they’re around people. But an introvert’s energy is easily zapped when there’s too much going on around them. This usually happens around the same time of day for them.
Therefore, it’s important to network during your peak time of energy so you can make a good first impression.
- If you have more energy in the mornings, attend networking breakfasts.
- If evenings are your peak time of energy, go to events held after work hours.
- There are also occasional networking lunches for those who are fired up for conversation in the middle of the day.
#6 Set goals and allow time to re-charge
If you know you’re usually tapped out after talking to only three or four people, then go to a networking event with the goal of meeting only three or four new people.
Afterward, go home or to a quiet place to re-charge.
#7 Push through the discomfort
Since networking can be uncomfortable even for extroverts, it’s important to acknowledge the discomfort you feel and push through it.
While it may be more comfortable to network online, you eventually have to get out from behind the computer.
If you still feel intimidated by the idea of attending a networking event with numerous people, start with something smaller. This could include one-on-one coffee meetings, informational interviews, or even attending a small class on a topic you find interesting. Networking events don’t always have to be big nor do they need to have the sole purpose of networking.
For more networking tips check out “How to be realistic about business networking” and stay tuned for more posts on how to network naturally and effectively.
Lori Bumgarner is the owner of paNASH, a passion and career coaching service that helps people get unstuck to pursue their passions and find work they love.