Can you be effective in networking as an introvert? The answer is an absolute YES! We have all seen these charming personalities that seem to attract all the attention at networking events.
One might wonder: “I don’t want to come off as salesy and I am shy. How will I have effortless conversations with people I just met! What is the point in even trying?”
I’m glad you asked! Here are 5 ways that will help you as an introvert (and others) benefit from a networking event.
When I go to networking events, I often notice people are either handing out business cards without building a connection first or giving people a one-way big presentation about their business. Almost like there is an invisible PowerPoint presentation floating in the room.
Take time to observe, take notes, and focus on certain areas to improve your pitch. These events are great for learning what not to do at them. Notice how and why people seem to check out and lose interest, especially when you’re in conversation with them. You will always be asked “So, what do you do?” This is a great space for improving your answer.
Consider this: Is there real value in mentioning all my unique selling points and fantastic achievements? Or is it wiser for me to be specific and intriguing?
Related to point 1, some individuals get too caught up in their sales pitch, they completely ignore an important factor: What’s in it for others?
They might be thinking “Why should I stay engaged with this person?” This is why I personally take interest in whomever I meet at and genuinely want to know what their company is about. I ask unpopular questions that help reveal the person behind the business.
Networking is a farming experience, not a hunting event; one must plant seeds and water them beyond the first encounter. The ultimate goal is to activate or build mutually beneficial relationships. It shouldn’t be completely focused on what others can do for you or buy from you.
Here’s a step by step sequence to that I’ve used over the years to build quality leads directly or indirectly. Eventually they produce mutual benefit, open up opportunities, or simply become quality partnerships that are a source of referrals.
Think of it as your networking wingman/wingwoman. A little support from a well-connected, more extroverted acquaintance can go a long way. Perhaps they know someone in your field or simply break the ice for you to usher you into a discussion you can add value to.
“What’s in it for them?” you might ask. Well, as an extrovert myself, I have successfully connected businesses & creative minds that resulted in fruitful and lucrative collaborations for them. This directly contributed to cementing my own valuable business relationships and credibility.
Make sure this person knows your value and areas of expertise, so he/she can connect you with like-minded people or potential opportunities. This way you can feel more self-assured and comfortable in engaging in discussions.
Just like you can tailor your elevator pitch, you can also tailor your networking style to your behavioral and communication preferences. It doesn’t matter whether you are an introvert, extrovert or an ambivert – networking can be beneficial for you if you approach connections in the style you’re most good at.
Remember, you are marketing yourself first, not your business. People do business with people they like. Consider these questions when creating your own style:
Your connections are about quality – not quantity!
Before you head to your networking event, think of a small list of conversation starters. Read a little about current business trends or a hot topic that might be discussed. If you have the chance, Google the people who are leading the event, key speakers, or the attendees.
Knowing to some extent what and who to expect will definitely help you approach people at more ease and improve your confidence levels, let alone guide your desired outcome from these networking events.
Because networking is a fantastic way to generate leads, I always prepare ahead of time my goal of attending, what kind of people I want to meet, what leads I may encounter, and what alliances I want to walk away with.
These are the tips I believe can help you create meaningful connections and solidify your spheres of influence. Any tips you can share? What are your general sentiments towards networking events?
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