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Talking to people might seem like one of the scariest, most nerve-wracking things in the world if you’re both shy and introverted.
And starting a business knowing you’ll have to interact with other people and possibly come up with something witty or clever to drum up new business and close a deal can seem like a nail in the coffin ⚰️.
But networking is an essential part of building a business, whether you do it on LinkedIn by building meaningful connections with people who share similar interests or attend virtual conferences that help connect you with potential clients and like-minded individuals from the same industry.
Why Networking Matters
While advertising and marketing are both great ways to bring in more clients and more money, networking can boost your efforts even more.
You know the guy (or girl) who said it’s all about who you know?
Well, they weren’t lying.
Knowing the CEO of a company you’re dying to work for (and having a personal or professional relationship with them) is much more effective than hoping and praying he or she sees your ad and hires you over the dozens of others vying for his or her attention (and business).
How to Network as an Introvert
As I told you already, I’m an introvert and sometimes we have trouble making connections with others because we’re always in our heads.
If you’re anything like me, you might have trouble simply striking up a conversation with someone (even if you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say and you really like and admire them).
It’s just part of our nature.
But the good news is that you can still network successfully and gain new clients (and lifelong friends) that can help you bring in revenue consistently, month after month.
So here goes.
Learn Some Communication Techniques
If you’re going to be networking, it helps to have a few communication techniques under your belt. And you don’t even need to master them to get started.
Apply the techniques you learn (don’t just read them).
I’d recommend getting some books or reading a few blog posts on communicating effectively before you start networking.
Get Mentally Tough
Part of being an introvert is spending a lot of time reflecting on your inner thoughts. And sometimes, that might mean focusing too much on negative things that happened to you. I can attest to that.
But if you want to be successful, you can’t dwell on the negative and let it wreak havoc on your personal beliefs about yourself (mainly your skills and abilities) and your business.
Doing this can be detrimental to your business and your mental health.
That’s why it’s crucial that you learn how to be mentally tough.
Some books that helped me are:
- The Mental Toughness Handbook (Damon Zahariades)
- 177 Mental Toughness Secrets of the World Class: The Thought Processes, Habits, and Philosophies of the Great Ones (Steve Siebold)
And a few I’ll be reading in my leisure.
- The Resilience Factor: 7 Keys to Finding Your Inner Strength (Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatte, PhD)
- The Micro Resilience Book (Bonnie St. John and Allen P. Haines)
- Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy (Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant)
- Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Brene Brown)
- Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life (Martin E.P. Seligman)
- Mental Training for Peak Performance (Steven Ungerleider)
Tap All of Your Resources
Networking as an introvert means you need to tap all of your resources because while the girl with the gift of gab is talking her way into opportunities, you’ll be quietly sitting in the corner hoping someone comes over to talk to you.
That means you need to use every resource and tool that you have at your disposal to make things happen for you.
Do you have a friend that works for a company that you want to write blog posts for? Reach out to them and ask about any opportunities they currently have (but remember to ask about them first – don’t be rude).
Did you used to work for a company that’s now looking to contract out freelance work that you’re interested in?
Or maybe a cousin who works for the government agency that’s looking to hire a subcontractor for an upcoming project?
Whatever resources you have, don’t be afraid to tap them. Remember, a closed mouth doesn’t get fed.
Get out there and take what you want (without stealing anything, of course).
Reflect on What’s Working
Once you’ve started making some progress with your networking, pay attention to what’s working and what’s not working. Then, obviously, do more of what’s working and less of what isn’t. That means if your messages aren’t getting read (or responded to) on LinkedIn, it might be time to take a different approach.
Maybe you need to fine-tune your messages or maybe LinkedIn is the wrong way to connect with your potential clients altogether. You’ll have to pay attention to things like this and know which approach to take. Of course, you won’t always know the right answer (hint: nobody does). Most business owners are just winging it and once something sticks, they run with it.
Do the same and you’ll be right up there along with them.
Network, Network, Network
Now it’s your turn. If you haven’t already dipped your toe in the water when it comes to networking, do it now. Start adding the right connections on LinkedIn, tapping all of your resources, and reading up on how to be mentally strong (and prepared for anything). Do whatever you need to do to make sure you’re networking the right way and at every chance you get.
Growth doesn’t happen inside your comfort zone. Step outside of it more and you’ll find that your networking efforts are much more effective.