Networking as an introvert has left me on the struggle bus way too often. 🚌 Can you relate? Leave a “toot toot” in the comments for solidarity.
I’m currently on a quest to move from everyone’s favorite picture sharing app since it’s become focused on videos that require pointing and memorizing words and lyrics from pop culture references that I don’t know 😅.
As I (and possibly you as well) search for ways outside of social media to connect with potential customers and clients, I have a few tips on how to have valuable and impactful exchanges while keeping our introverted energy in check.
Knowing I have to “stand out” and actually talk about shit is a for real struggle when I’m not prepared. As an introverted entrepreneur I’ve definitely experienced that out of body thing that happens when it comes to networking and having to talk about the typical things folks wanna know.
I would resort to the very basic thing of what I do, use broad strokes, and hope they would ask someone else a question.
Then I would go home and kick myself for not engaging with someone who seemed truly interested in what I do, and the loss of a potential contact. I’d justify or tell myself it wouldn’t have amounted to much, but I knew I never gave the opportunity a change. Sound familiar?
If this is you, here ae some introvert networking tips that I’m also currently working on so that I (and now you) can make the most of a potential trouble area for introverts; being the focus of a conversation.
1 Talk About Your Business’s Value
First tip is to find your unique value, and make that the star of the conversation. You should be able to answer: What about your business is different to that of your competitor? What rare quality can you offer to your customers that they can’t?
When I take the figurative eyes off of me and make it about the business, I feel a little peace because instead of experiencing the pressure of having to sell who I am, I put the work on my business (even though people do buy who you are, but that’s for another post).
Instead of me responding to a “What do you do” with a stream of barely incoherent words, I hit em with the differentiators that set me apart, namely my focus on other introverted entrepreneurs, and WOC.
2 Be Clear About Your Business + Mission
The second shortcut to standing out and having an easier time communicating your biz shizz, is having a clear mission. This is another card you have up your sleeve when people want to know more about you and what you do.
Bonus: When you have a clear mission, it cuts down on the rambling (or awkward silence) that undoubtedly happens when you don’t know what to say. I am more than a little awkward when it comes to new people, and I’ve for sure been guilty of both saying random word salad from nerves and being a solid replica of a bobblehead, just smiling and nodding away out of discomfort.
So when it’s your turn to shine, let em know what you’re reppin’. Your mission formula: Be clear about who you are and answer “How are you helping your customers? Why are you helping them? Where are you going?”
3 Make Your Customers the Main Focus
Quick tip number three; when it comes to networking and conversation – Make it about your customers. Be sure to talk about who you help, what their problems are, and what makes them special. When you talk about your customers and make them a guest in your conversation, the listener begins to imagine this person, and when they come across them IRL, they see them and think “I know someone who helps people like you!” and will talk about the interesting person they met who may be able to help (thass you sis). Or, even better, they see themselves, and say “I think this person can help me!”.
Talking about your customers relieves the pressure of talking about you directly. Bonus points for throwing in a lil bit about why you like working with your customers.
4 Be Honest
Tip four – be honest about being an introvert. Don’t hide that conversations with strangers make you feel like SWV (so weak🎶). If it’s your first time being somewhere, share that and also how you found the event. Then when they follow up with the typical questions, you’ll be ready thanks to tips 1-3.
5 Be Interested
And last but not least, tip five, be kind and engaged. If you’re speaking with someone who has said something that’s piqued your interest, don’t be afraid to ask them more about it. Chances are you’re speaking to an extrovert who approached you, and they certainly won’t say no to sharing more about themselves. This also takes the pressure off of you to be in the spotlight. When the conversation winds down, if it feels comfortable and right, ask for their contact details and be sure to let them know you enjoyed meeting them. They’ll remember you as that badass introvert who spoke so passionately about her business, and being memorable is the (second) most valuable currency in business.
Have any other tips, introvert to introvert? Share in the comments.