Networking can be dreadful for many business owners, especially for those who are introverted. The thought of going to another mixer, schmoozing with people you may never see again, and stepping into discomfort can be stressful to business owners who already have enough on their plate. Needless to say, for some, networking is at the bottom of their priority list. However, networking is an essential part of building a successful business. Creating mutually beneficial relationships can be rewarding and open doors of opportunities that can provide timely solutions to problems. Instead of swearing off networking for good, approach networking with in a different way. Here are some networking tips introverted business owners can try out:
Find The Right Setting
Mention a big party to an introvert and you might find a look of terror in their eyes. Introversion is not by any means a weakness when it comes to socializing at parties. Instead, most introverts prefer a social setting where they can warm up and build relationships with a selective few. However, most networking events and mixers tend to work like speed dating– talk to a person for a few minutes and move on to the next.
For the introverted business owner who prefers a different social environment, a better way to approach networking is to find smaller groups to participate in. This could be joining a meetup group for 5-10 people or attending a small local event in your community. Instead of forcing yourself into an uncomfortable environment, find a community group where you feel comfortable connecting with others. In this way, networking won’t feel as overwhelming or frustrating.
Practice Your Memory Skills
One networking skill every person can use, whether an extrovert or an introvert, is a sharp memory. Dale Carnegie once said “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” Even the most avid networker will forget a name once in awhile. Remedy this problem by using mnemonic devices, which can help you remember facts about a person. For example, visualize pictures that will help you associate the person with their name. Outrageous images and stories tend to stick in your memory the most. If you meet John Doe, who enjoys listening to the Beatles, imagine John Lennon riding on a doe to a party. The association can remind you of John Doe’s name, where you met him, and what kind of music he listens to. In this way, you can associate the laughable image and memory with information about a person, giving you a better chance of reconnecting the next time you see each other.
Follow Up and Connect
It’s easy to meet people at a mixer but then lose touch after the event is over. Although exchanging phone numbers and contact information is one way to tackle this problem, it may not always guarantee success. To ensure a successful networking relationship, make it a point to exchange contact information with those you felt a connection with. In the following days or weeks after meeting, make an opportunity to follow-up with that person. You can ask if they want to meet up over lunch, attend another business-related event, or connect over email or phone call. Whatever the case, follow-up is an important step in maintaining the relationships you’ve built.
Let Friends and Family Help
Business connections aren’t always made through networking events, but can also come through your personal relationships. Friends and family members can be helpful in connecting you with a larger network of potential clients and business partners. One way to expand your social circle is to be intentional about offering your services to those around you. Let your friends and family members know that you are available to offer your services and you’re looking to expand your network. There’s a likely chance that someone can introduce you to a new client or a new friend in your industry. Further down the road, this can lead to new opportunities and potential partnerships for your company.
Lastly, another tip for networking is to find opportunities to help others. Whether you look for volunteering opportunities or mentor a starting business owner, helping others can open up a world of possibilities. Everywhere you go, someone around you will be in need of your services. When you approach networking as a chance to help another person, the process can be more meaningful and rewarding. Whether or not a networking event goes the way you expect, have an attitude of helping others first. This will give you a better chance at connecting with people in general. Approach networking not as a game of how to find those who benefit you, but how to find others who can benefit from your help. In the end, you may find that there will be more people who are interested in connecting with you than you realized.
When it comes to running a business, every business owner needs all the help they can get. Obstacles such as getting a business loan, hiring good talent, and finding a business partner can be solved through networking. Networking doesn’t have to be painful. Instead, use these tips to approach networking in a different way and you might find that it could actually be pleasant.