If your idea of a fun way to spend your Friday night is going straight to your house, making a cup of hot chocolate, and curling up with a delightful book, you’re most likely an introvert.
Unlike extroverts, you tend to prefer having time to yourself instead of going to loud parties. Don’t worry, you are not alone. There are a million other introverts like you all over the world, and they are doing just fine in their chosen careers.
Business networking is an activity where entrepreneurs meet and form relationships. It is where businessmen meet potential business partners, share trade information, and create business opportunities.
Business networking can take place locally, regionally, or internationally, in the form of conferences.
In the world of business networking, you need to muster enough courage to strike up conversations with people you don’t know. Even extroverts, who are more inclined to mingle with people, may find it difficult to approach potential partners. For introverts, this can bring so much anxiety.
Business is vicious, and you must keep up to survive. You will often have to set some fears aside and step out into the world. It can be challenging for an introvert to make new contacts.
You may think that it’s impossible to ease the anxiety that can come with being an introvert.
But there are ways to work around it, and you can still join business networking events. Here are some tips you should keep in mind:
1. Research on networking events
Before you start attending networking events, you need to assess yourself first.
What type of event can you handle attending? Who is your target audience? Which events do you think will be helpful for your business?
By knowing the answers to these questions, you will know which business networking events you must attend.
2. Prepare your introduction
The main purpose of attending a business networking event is to meet new people. When you’ve finally arrived at the venue, you would have to introduce yourself to your potential business partner.
Before going, prepare a short speech about yourself. You should also think of questions that you might want to ask. This way, you’ll avoid long lulls in the conversation.
A pro tip: keep in mind that people like talking about themselves. It’s highly recommended to get them talking first before you introduce yourself. You’ll have a pleasant conversation, and hopefully, a new friend, instantly.
3. Think of an effective strategy
You must pace yourself and set a target for how many people you would like to meet at an event. If it’s your first time to attend one, start with a small number and build it up from there. It’s also strategic to pick events that will take place at a time when you’re at your best.
Give yourself some time to adjust before the event, so when you finally step inside the venue, you’re ready.
4. Send an email
Cold calls are very hard to do for introverts. It usually feels too aggressive and intrusive for both the caller and the person being called, thus making it ineffective.
Big events may also mean talking to so many people in a very short amount of time, which means you won’t be able to hold meaningful conversations.
On the other hand, sending an email can be easier to tackle for introverts. You can take your time constructing your message, researching, and having more personal interactions.
5. Reach out to people who already have connections
Speaking to people who have plenty of connections can be less stressful and more productive.
For example, a former employer who knows a lot of people in the same industry will be helpful, especially if you work in consultation or sales. It is also wise to utilize alumni networks since schools already have tools that will let you find people by industry.
6. Avoid burning out
Introverts aren’t made to mix with a lot of people too often. If you go to multiple events frequently, you might end up burning yourself out. You need to work smart and choose events that will benefit you the most. Do some research.
Find out who will be attending the event and whether they are your target audience. This way, you can pick the events where the people you’ll meet are the people you really want to approach.
7. Do not ask for a job
Asking for a job is a big favor. This can ruin an otherwise easy conversation and make it awkward. Instead, you can ask your new business acquaintance for their ideas and advice.
Once you’ve earned their trust and respect, you will most likely be at the top of their list when a position opens up at their company.
8. Ask for their business cards
You may find this a bit old-fashioned, but there’s a reason why it worked for our parents. Simply put, it is more polite to write down information on a card instead of typing it on your phone.
9. Make it short and sweet
You don’t need to rush yourself to form a deep connection at an event. People especially fear making commitments at networking events where everyone thinks business all the time.
What you can do is to strike a short conversation and politely exit, but make sure that you ask for their contact information. You can set up a lunch or coffee appointment after the event, so you can discuss your ideas in a more relaxed environment.
10. Find time to rest
Introverts need recharging after massive events. After a long day shaking people’s hands at a business networking function, it’s okay to rest and enjoy watching your favorite TV series at home. You won’t be productive if you’re emotionally drained, so it is important to make time for yourself.
11. Make use of social media
It would be a total waste of time if you go to an event and meet people only to stop being in contact with them. You can use your social media and connect with them on Facebook or LinkedIn.
It is also a smart move to send a unique email to each person you met to let them know that you are interested in connecting with them even after the event.
You can enjoy business networking even if you’re an introvert. Keep in mind that what you need is a strategy and tons of preparation to create a pleasant environment for yourself. You were able to meet new people and socialize, and that in itself is an accomplishment.
Now, you can relax and binge-watch that series with more contacts on your phone, and perhaps, a few more events on your calendar.