Networking Tips for Introverted Entrepreneurs

Business is communication. Communication is business.

The two seamlessly go hand in hand.

When entrepreneurs communicate, it’s inevitable that they build a relationship with one another. This benefits entrepreneurs because much of business is reliant on building and maintaining relationships.

The Correlation Between Business and Relationships

If you have any doubts about how business deals are correlated with the relationship between the two parties or individuals making the business deal, just ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would you rather hire your friend or a stranger if both your friend and the stranger had equal skills across the board?
  • Would you rather hire someone you know to be a good person versus someone you think might be a good person?
  • Would you rather work with someone who tries to be friendly with you versus someone who doesn’t care about being friendly with you at all?

The point to consider is that a business relationship doesn’t just happen. It takes time. It requires effort and hard work. A relationship needs to be formed.

And the feeling of a relationship needs to persist from start to finish: from the moment you meet someone to the point they sign a contact with you to the weeks and months after you completed your first project with him and her.

The inception period of what eventually becomes a relationship is a conversation, something to initiate getting to know someone and understanding his or her needs and challenges.

That conversation takes place during networking: where extroverts excel, and introverts struggle.

Why Networking Can Be Difficult For Introverts

Engaging with new people requires openness in a way that’s easy for extroverts because extroverts tend to be:

  • Excited about life
  • Glad to meet new people
  • Optimistic about the future
  • Not afraid of risk
  • Flexible about circumstances

When you have these characteristics, it’s easy for you to interact with people you don’t know. There aren’t too many barriers between you and the new people whom surround you at an event or party.

But for introverts, engaging with other people can be quite the different experience. That’s because introverts tend to be:

  • Skeptical of life
  • Indifferent or reluctant to meet new people
  • Pessimistic (or realistic) about the future
  • Risk averse
  • Inflexible about circumstances

All of this gets amplified when it comes to networking. This is because with networking, introverts have to do more than just talk with others. They have to:

  1. Speak with new people on a time crunch (the introverts don’t have all day to talk to these strangers; they have limited time because the event, e.g., a conference, has an expiration date).
  2. Sell themselves, their value, their business, and their enthusiasm (which is generally finite).
  3. Entertain new people, so much so that a new person needs to be “buy in” to whatever idea the introvert is pitching.

How to Network in Business if You’re an Introvert

The good news is there are tangible and actionable tips for introverts to carry out in order to excel in networking.

  • Ask yourself, “What would my favorite TV show or movie character do in this situation.” Then do it. It’s a little weird but it works almost every time. The basic gist of it is this: you shouldn’t aim to be yourself; you should aim to be the best version of yourself, and most of the time, I’d bet that version of you is a TV show character you relate to whom you admire. Step outside of yourself and reduce the amount of emotions involved when it comes to meeting new people. Scratch that. Remove it from your psyche. This isn’t about you, your mini-traumas pertaining to social anxiety. This is about finding a lane, committing to it, and owning the moment. The more you think about whether people will like you or if they’ll think you’re smart and all that, the more you’ll sink into the confines of your own mind. Step out of it. Think what your favorite character would do in an identical moment if you were watching it on TV or in a movie. Then go an do it. You’ll find over time that there’s not that much of a difference between who you are now and the person you want to be.
  • Practice talking with strangers after a decent amount of caffeine or after a bunch of push-ups. The spectacular Tim Ferriss has this great bit about his regiment for practicing for his Ted Talk. It’s honestly quite fascinating. One aspect in particular that touched on performance anxiety was the benefits of preparing your heart rate for the level it would likely be during the actual performance you’re practicing for, in this case a Ted Talk. Broken down, it can be understood that nerves heighten both before a performance and also during, so it’s best to practice your routine under similar external conditions (i.e., if you’re preparing for a Ted Talk you should practice on a stage) as well as internal conditions (i.e., the point being that if your heart rate will be high during your speech, you should practice with the supplement of caffeine or an extended set of push-up). You’ll consistently fail at networking in a real situation like a conference if you practice in bed in front of the mirror. Instead, practice while lightly jogging around your block with caffeine, push-ups and the likes, and let your body feel what you’ll likely feel when you’ll be in the moment.
  • Start off small. This one’s easy and quite cliche, but it’s got legs. The basic principle is that you need to take the appropriate action to set yourself up for success. Being an introvert comes with its own set of baggage, such as overthinking and over-calculating. Introverts must make sure that they start off small during their practice period so that they don’t psyche themselves out. Small steps. Small wins. Rather than going to a 1,000-person conference, maybe try a meetup of 12 people. Talk with one person. Call it a victory. With these small steps individuals must set up small goals.

Conclusion

At the end of the day you want to execute on a business deal with someone you can call your friend. This is simply due to the fact that you will need spend ample time with this person. It’s not just a signed deal and that’s it. There’s plenty of back and forth throughout the entire process. So you’ll want to look forward to those things (e.g., calls, emails, texts, etc.) rather than dread having to deal with them.

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