Overcome the Fear Factor: Networking for Introverts
Three Skills Introverts Can Develop
Nothing strikes more fear into the heart of an introvert than the advice: Go forth and network to grow your business, get a job or just be successful in whatever endeavor you are attempting. I should know. I’m an introvert.
Why Introverts are Naturals at Networking As introverts, we think that being asked to network means doing something that we are terrible at. We think that everyone else is a natural at networking, while we somehow missed out on the networking DNA. Nothing could be further from the truth. Networking is a learned skill, not an inherited ability. Introverts have unique abilities that make us exceptionally good at networking if we just get up our courage and dive in. Here’s why:
- We are naturally sensitive to other people and how they are feeling.
- We are better listeners. Bet you’ve been stuck in a conversation before with an extrovert who wouldn’t stop talking about themselves, right? Your eyes glaze over and you can’t wait to get away. Introverts won’t bore you with their own story. They’ll ask you about your story and they’ll care about you while they listen to it.
- We are usually more focused and prepared for an event. Because introverts are often nervous about networking, they tend to do their research: Who will be there? Who will they most likely have something in common with?
The Fear Factor If introverts are so good at networking why does it take an act of Congress to get us out and do it? There are several reasons why:
- We anticipate other’s feelings and decide in advance that we will be inadequate in some way. Introverts say things like, “Everyone else looks like they know what they are doing and I don’t.”
- We over-think the situation and worry about what to say. Introverts think, “Everyone else knows how to strike up a conversation and I’m at a loss.”
- We don’t like being the center of attention and feel awkward. Introverts think, “Everyone else is comfortable while I’m standing here like a fool.”
Three Skills to Develop How can we tap into our strengths and use the skills we already have in a networking situation?
- Change the focus. Shift the focus to others and their feelings and needs rather than focusing on your own.
- Create a plan. Decide in advance to approach x number of people and find out two things. Here are some suggestions:
- What do you do for a living?
- What is your biggest challenge in your business?
- How did you get started in your business?
- What do you like or not like about your business?
- Develop an elevator speech. This doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. Here are some examples:
- I write children’s books that help kids develop problem solving skills.
- I help clients create work they can love so they can do work that matters.
- Your turn:
You Can Do This Being an introvert uniquely qualifies you to be a networking genius. But your style and your technique will not look like the typical extrovert who dominates the room, talks to everyone present and leaves with a handful of random business cards. Work in your strengths and get to know a few people well. Concentrate on developing a relationship not an impression. I promise the experience will be rewarding for you and those that you touch.
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