The instant you step in the room, you can feel it. You know what I’m talking about — you feel it every time you show up at a business networking event. You can tell no one’s really listening to what you’re saying; they’re only thinking about whether you’ll become a future client or if they’re wasting their time and should move onto the next guy.
I hate hearing I “need” to show up at these events and hand out a million business cards just to make myself known. That’s not good networking for introverts. Why? That type of interaction is annoying even for extroverts. For introverts, it’s downright painful. Here’s how you can build a strong network instead:
1. Industry-Based Twitter Chats
If you’re searching for a shortcut to get your name and image in front of more impressive people in your industry, look for Twitter chats happening in your niche.
A few years ago, I started a website about personal finance. I didn’t know any influencers in the space, so I looked up Twitter chats where people showed up to discuss personal finance and put it in my calendar to participate every week. Each chat usually lasts for one hour, but the beauty of it is you can talk to exactly who you want to talk to and ignore the rest.
Things move really fast during this hour, but if you show up regularly and contribute to the conversation, influencers will start to notice you and take you seriously. If you ask me, this is a way better result than forcing yourself through weekly networking events.
2. If You Go to a Live Event, Make It a Workshop
Workshops are amazing. Not only do you walk away with a valuable skill and problem solved, but you can experience more in-depth conversations than you could ever hope for in a generic networking event. Plus, since we usually go into workshops for the purpose of learning instead of networking to find new clients, our guards are down, allowing us to have deeper, more meaningful conversations.
We don’t care so much about showing off how “perfect” our businesses are. Instead, we care more about getting to know the person sitting next to us. Because of this, we make better, more lasting connections than in a networking event, where everyone’s got their guard up and is just hoping to walk out with new business.
3. Pitch Yourself as a Podcast Guest
Confession: I’ve only been on two to three podcasts at this point. But you know what? The people who’ve reached out to me after hearing my episodes are amazing. They often say my story inspired them, reply to my weekly emails and tell me what’s going on in their world. They genuinely feel like they know me, because they’ve heard me talk candidly and openly — and not about small-talk items — for 30 minutes to an hour.
In this situation, you really only need to have one conversation with one person, which makes it perfect for introverts. Once that’s over, and the episode goes live, you’re literally talking to thousands of people without spending all the uncomfortable time at networking events that require you to individually talk to the same number of people. Absolutely perfect, if you ask me.
Networking for Introverts Can Have Big Results
It goes against “common” wisdom, but I’d say an introvert’s dislike of small talk with strangers actually makes them better networkers. As an introvert myself, I actively avoid the small-talk networking events and find ways to go “straight for the kill” in making meaningful connections with the people who matter.
If you’re an introverted entrepreneur, what are some ways you’ve found to shortcut traditional networking advice and build a strong network for yourself? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear your tips, too.