Now that I am back in the saddle, I am back to attending networking events which as an introvert I always find challenging. And if like me you too suffer from being amongst a large group of people, here are a few tips I find helpful at these events:
- First and foremost I go with the intent of making one meaningful connection that I can follow up on. I don't circulate the room, I make time for the person I am introduced to or the first person I talk to. If they move on I give the next person my intended focus. I want to get to know people and their business not just make small talk, hand over a business card, and move on. How will I know if I can genuinely help them?
- Look for people who you can genuinely help and who need your help. Not everybody will need your service or product so it is good to ask questions, listen and find out if this is the right target audience for you.
- Ask them questions. People love talking about themselves. Here is a great article about what to ask when networking. They will remember you for the way you made them feel not for what you said or did.
- Listen, listen and listen. You've asked them questions now listen to the response. The more genuine the conversation the more genuine the connection, the more likely the relationship is to grow, and the more likely a business opportunity.
Once I have made my genuine meaningful connection, I am likely to leave as that is about all I can offer as an introvert, and then I seek solace to recover from the overstimulation of all the people and talking. I also like to arrive early in most cases where possible so I can observe and suss out the room and the people as they come in. Another handy tip is to ask the host if they have the type of person you are looking for and ask them to introduce you so no need to talk to a dozen people before finding the right one.
Networking is a necessary part of building a business (it also has a lot of stigmas attached to it). I do actually like meeting new people and hearing about their passions, I just don't always like the format. I especially don't like people who circulate the room just handing out business cards and flyers. I am a big believer that people buy from people and you can't build a relationship from handing out bits of paper. The other thing I'm not so keen on is being introduced to printers (constantly, all of the time) just because I am a designer. Whilst helpful, I've come to the event to meet all types of businesses especially social entrepreneurs, who I love working with.
Do you have any handy tips for networking as an introvert?