Business networking can often be an uncomfortable task. Reaching out to professionals outside your immediate circle can be overwhelming or anxiety-inducing, yet networking remains crucial to your business success. So, how can introverts up their networking game? We discuss how introverts can overcome social barriers to network effectively and cultivate valuable and professional connections.
1. Set a time to prepare
Social networking events are great opportunities to build lasting connections face-to-face, but they’re also the most intimidating and disorienting for those of us who aren’t naturally outgoing. Networking events can be improvisational and organic, but a little preparation will go a long way. Check for guest lists and learn a little about the other attendees before you arrive. This will make it easier to drum up conversation and help you single out the people must likely to be receptive to your proposed business connections. Take time to think about what you’re looking for in a business contact. Simple preparation like this can give you a much greater sense of control.
2. Partner with a colleague
Business networking doesn’t have to be a one-man job. Placing yourself in crowds can be much less intimidating if you partner with a colleague or a friend that you’re already comfortable with. This way, you’re more likely to open avenues for connections. Remember, joining an event with a lengthy guest list doesn’t mean you’re the only introvert in the room, so keep an eye out for small pairs and clusters like yours. You may just find people you can really relate to.
3. Try one-on-one
Business events that require you to engage in large groups can be demanding for introverts. However, there’s more than one way to network. Small, one-on-one engagements can be just as effective. Reach out to contacts one person at a time. Connect with them on a more personal level. Suggest more intimate networking settings like cafes or even your own business (you may feel more confident in your own environment). Begin with close contacts of close contacts, so that you have mutual friends who can put you at ease.
4. Turn to social media
They call it “social” media for a reason! Social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have largely replaced in-person events as the primary form of B2B networking, but many business owners remain a bit unsure how to capitalise on the access these platforms provide. Post regularly. Tell the story of your business, build a brand identity, and be open about what would benefit your business that other businesses could offer. Then, add to your network by following local business leaders and friends, and don’t be afraid to fire off a message when you sense an opportunity.
5. Treat introversion as an advantage
Contrary to popular belief, introversion is not a hindrance you must overcome to be successful. Being an introvert may simply mean a preference for the inner world of ideas. You and your business may benefit more than most from time alone with your thoughts. It’s okay if socialising consumes more of your energy. Knowing and accepting this allows you to take the time you need to recharge, make a more focused use of your networking time, and make the most of your time alone. Remember, there’s no reason why you’re not the one other business owners should want to network with!
Make networking work for you
Networking doesn’t have to be distressing. At some point, everyone will have to ask for help from someone else. That’s the core of B2B networking. You just need to find a way to connect with others that works best for you. Start by joining a supportive network. When you join Bartercard, you can connect with thousands of other businesses that you can collaborate with. Form a community with and help your business gain traction and leads. Interested to know more? Contact us today!