Discover 3 ways to network as an introvert: Online, In Person, and at Conferences so that you won't feel exhaustion and overwhelm that can rapidly overtake us.
I'm an introvert and I'm guessing you might be too. Or even if you don't define yourself as an introvert in business. Maybe when it comes to networking, you just feel a little shy...
You're not sure what to do and what the best way forward is to Online, In Person, and at Conferences as an introvert without feeling that exhaustion and overwhelmed that we often feel when we start connecting with people in outside, externally, big places, even on Facebook.
It's quite a big place and can be a bit daunting.
How to Network Online as an Introvert
How to Network In Person
Secret number 1 for Networking
How to Network as an Introvert at Conferences
Secret number 2 for Networking
The Hidden Power of the Business Card that most people ignore!
Secret number 3 for Networking
What you tend to find is people who are more extroverted are very good at implementing and initiating posts online: They will be asking questions, asking for advice, asking for support.
And what you can do as an introvert in the groups where you know your ideal clients are, is you become an active member, where you're serving the people who are asking those questions and you're helping them past their struggles. You are a natural giver.
By responding to posts you are showing your value and serving. You can show your depth and knowledge by responding within different groups. This then makes your name known so connections can be made as you start gaining the reputation as an expert in your field.
People who are curious about you will then want to click on your personal profile. So make sure your personal profile has all your links to your business page, to your business website etc!
In Person Meet-Ups
Personal Meet-ups happen on and offline.
After connecting with new people in online communities, I often then arrange to connect and meet with on Zoom, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp. We connect face to face just like we having a conversation in a coffee shop.
If your business is locally based than you can also reach out by text, email or messenger to meet in person. For us is introverts it is actually energising and vitally important too, to go out and meet people, but we just find it better in smaller groups scenarios.
Secret Number 1
It all starts with a conversation. Asking questions and listening to what the other person has to say. And that is actually the crux of good networking right there in this tip.
It's not about going with your sales pitch, your elevator pitch about what you do. It's about asking questions about what other people are doing. Then, after a while they will ask what you are doing... in a natural flow. No pressure. Before you go think of some good starter questions to break the ice that bring about natural conversations. One question I love to ask is WHY they do what they do...
Importance of Follow-Up
Then, after you've met up, whether in person or online, you also need to follow up. This is a one of the areas that so many people fall down on, and it can be very simple.
Create templates in your email system which have the basics written but always start with a personal detail that they shared with you ... "Great meeting you the other day, where we talked about X Y Z, I'll keep you in mind for ..... "
Or "Here's an article that will help you go a bit further with ABC"
Show that you give value and show that you follow up. Stand out by going that little bit further. So it's not just a one off meeting, but the start of a new relationship - which is built over time.
The basis of the good business is actually all about relationships.
How to Network as an Introvert at Conferences
I know this is one situation we avoid like crazy as introverts unless we can see the real value in the conference!
As an introvert going to conferences, I pick and choose really carefully where I sign up to attend, as I will not attend many in the year, they have to be good!
There are many, many different conferences that people can attend these days, and you need to pick the ones that really work for you in your business, in your niche.
You need to choose a gathering that both inspires and motivates yourself as well as meeting like-minded people. And maybe they'll be people who are clients there as well. But maybe not, and that doesn't mean you won't get business as a result of attending!
Secret Number 2
A lot of people get this networking aspect wrong. They tend to think while I'm there, I'm there to go get clients.
The other attendees may very well not be your clients, and that's fine, because what you're doing there is to gather information and connect with new people who you share your business card with. So then, if they know somebody who is interested in your area, they can look down and say "this person could help you".
More often than not, when it comes to attending conferences and networking, it is about increasing your visibility and building connections with the people you meet and sharing your story. And then that, in turn, will bring clients and greater exposure to you.
Three Ways to Prepare for a Conference
When you attend a conference as an introvert, there's three main points, that you need to think about:
1. Plan upfront.
I would always recommend that you actually stay at the venue, or very close by, to the conference if you can.
This gives you is the opportunity to take time out from all the noise, and there's always so much noise at these conferences! The talking gets louder and louder and louder and louder through the day... I feel myself like my battery's going you all the way down.
It's wise to be aware of your energy levels. If you're attending a multi-day conference, you need to make sure you look after your own energy levels and take yourself away to reenergise at certain times.
And the only way to really do that is to step out of the venue; either go back to your own room for 10 minutes, or take time to go for walk outside and get fresh air. This will waken up your brain again before you can go in and show your best self.
In these big networking events, it's too easy to feel pulled in lots and lots of different directions, and sometimes you just need to stop and breathe and take a few moments.
2. Research Attendees
Most conferences have list of attendees, so do a bit of homework beforehand. And if there's anyone in particular you want to meet with, then reach out to them in person before the event and arrange to have a coffee in a quiet corner and make sure then that they're also looking out for you as much as you're looking out for them, because then they know you want that to happen.
And that also really helps the conversation, because if you say, "hey, I'd love to meet you. I want to know a bit more about your story on what's going on in your life", then that is what will happen and new friendships are made.
3. Don't Fill Every Moment!
Lastly .. I've talked about planning but don't plan as well! I know this might sound counter intuitive, but always leave time for the unexpected.
I know some people tend to book themselves solid, it's so constant.
What you need to do is allow time for those happy circumstances to occur: when you meet someone for the first time and arrange to have a coffee together which can open unexpected doors,
So don't book up everything but book in flexibility.
Having time for yourself also allows for that time to connect personally one on one with different people.
Are you HSP too?
When I'm in a busy room, I hear all the conversations going on around me. This is one of the reasons why I get so exhausted at big networking meetings and conferences. I can't just listen to the person I'm talking to. I can't help listening to all the other conversations in earshot because that's kind of how I'm wired internally. It's a symptom of being an HSP - Highly Sensitive Person.
And it gets very tiring. And then I can't concentrate and remember to say everything that I wish to say in my head... which is where the business card comes in with its secret weapon.
The hidden power off the business card
Long tradition tells us to take our business cards to a big networking event, and it is super super vital for when your networking as an introvert.
Why? If you're busy listening and talking through different topics, it can be very easy to just let the extrovert talk away and not interrupt the flow... But the movement of bringing out your business card can give the signal for your companion to so the same.
When you're meeting people who are likely to be connecting you to other clients (they are not likely to be your client's themselves) and the business card serves as the reminder for who you are and what you do when all the noise has quietened down.
What do you need on your business card?
Think about it when you're at a networking event, people meet lots and lots of different people. And what do we remember the most?
It's not names.
It's not necessarily even what people do.
It's their face.
So you really need a nice photo off you on your business card along with these other elements:
- Your photo
- A headline - Your Logo
- Your title
- A short description about what you do
- Social handles (Instagram, Linkedin, Facebook)
You want all that on one side of your business card; here is mine below -
Secret Number 3
Now the secret to a really powerful business card is to put a Call to Action on the back of the business card ...and very few people do this.
Its super simple way to stand out and give more contact points after the event, with clear sign-posts as to what they can do more of next to learn more about you and your offers.
Various companies offer the ability to create different back sides to your cards at the same cost - my favourite is Moo.com I'm not an affiliate or anything. I just really love their business cards and that's where I've got mine done! Moo allows for up to 50 different images or text on the back of the business card.
In the past, when I was working more as an artist and a designer, I would show lots of my different designs on the back and then when I was networking, you've got a mini portfolio in front of you. People would pick and choose the ones that appeal to them, So for artists, it's really the best way to use this space.
But for myself, an online business strategist, I have Calls To Action on the back of my cards. I picked five different Calls To Action to go on the back of my business cards:
CTA 1: "Over-thinkers Action Plan"
This is my free sample on my homepage and if I am talking to you and I see the content in this plan is what you need, or the best entry point for new contacts, then this would be the card I give away.
CTA 2: "Create your Content Buckets".
This is a workshop that I give and help people with their how to create their social media content online. It's a great topic that everyone needs and those who have a community and are looking for guest speakers, this is my most popular topic.
CTA 3: "Entrepreneurs Sales Funnel"
If we have been talking together about the importance of connecting authentically to your customers and understanding what they need and when, this is the card I will share. It's a talking point card for me that gives a memory jog for the recipient.
CTA 4: "Member Zone"
On my Web site, I have a training portal, which offers both paid and free training. Anyone can sign up and register for the free training... just visit the link.
CTA 5: "Facebook Community"
Lastly, on Facebook I have my Introvert Entrepreneurs Powerhouse which is free to join, and is a community of like-minded women with similar goals looking to connect, support & inspire each other.
Over to You!
What different options you can create as a Call to Action on your business cards ? What do you want people to do remember about you?
If you've got any networking tips of your own, please do comment and add them because I always feel the more we share our experiences and what works for us is that's how we can help other people grow and succeed as well.