Taking the Eeek! Out of Networking as an Introvert by Susanna Reay
Networking: the mere mention of the word can send shivers down the spine of many a business owner, particularly for those of us more introverted in nature. Normally the last thing on our “to-do” list is to talk about ourselves!
In this article, I’m going to show you how you can bring new opportunities and partnerships to your business without angst by taking the “eeek” out of networking as an introvert.
FACT: Introverts ROCK at Networking
We do! But our energy does drain fast if we’re not strategic in how we approach networking. We need a smarter approach that leverages our natural strengths.
Networking is not a numbers game. This is why introverts can flourish. We prepare, research and look for deeper relationships with less people rather than looking to connect with everyone.
It’s important to understand that networking is a long-term marketing strategy that grows over time as you develop the know, like, trust factor. This is why speed networking is futile as it is aimless, because you want your ideal prospects to chase you, not you to chase them. Your goal is to have your people seek you out and ask to work with you.
I’m going to show you how to make this happen by sharing my 3 steps to networking success: Planning, Preparation and Post-Event Process.
Step 1: Networking Planning
Before you even step into a room, whether virtual or in real life, to get the most from networking it’s important to plan and define the following elements:
Share Your Spark and Be You. Do not put on a suit of armour and try to be the person that you think others wish to see. Gone are the days when power suits ruled, people want to connect with people, regardless of business type or sector.
Remember Your Mission. When we need to do something for our business that we may not initially feel like doing, such as stepping out of our comfort zone and into a room of strangers, it’s important to remind ourselves why we set up our business in the first place. This is likely to be around sharing your talents, your expertise to those that need the solution you offer. Selling is serving and others out there are looking for a guide. That guide could well be you, if only they knew about you.
Know Your Clients’ Trigger Moment. In the business world, there is much talk about your ideal client avatar, demographics and such like. But at the end of the day, the single most important aspect of your clients that you need to be attuned to is their trigger moment. What has happened in their life when they reach the point that they say “I need to do X” and look for a solution “Y” that you offer. Our job as experts is not to convince prospects that they need our solution but instead to show we recognise the problem they are facing, then present them with the solution that meets the problem in a way that feels simple and secure.
Define Your Big Message. This is the message that you say when you get asked “What do you do?”. This is your core message and is a complete story loop that shows the main problem, your solution and the ultimate end goal your clients are looking for. Planning out and memorising your big message, will bring confidence to you in all networking situations plus many other areas of your business life. This one is best shared by example, with my big message…
“Most introverted entrepreneurs struggle to sell their services and talk about what they do, so I’ve created The Introvert Way® online training programs that help coaches & consultants package up their expertise to scale. When you clarify your offers, word starts to spread about your company and your business grows.”
PRO TIP: Take a moment to write out what your big message could be, following this sample format.
Step 2: Networking Preparation
The next step is to prepare for the event itself, rather than just ‘winging it’ which can bring endless anxiety to the best of us! My three best strategies here are:
Decide Your Goal. Before attending any form of networking, be clear in yourself what your purpose for that session is. Are you looking for a particular type of contact? Are you looking to make friends? Are you looking to deepen a relationship with someone you’ve only met once before? All these goals are valid, as is a goal of just having one in-depth and interesting conversion. There is no need to take two minutes with 30 people in the room, as that rarely has any ripples in your business.
Identify Amplifiers. Amplifiers are the people who you see at the hub of any networking event, these are those people who have been in circulation around the business sphere for years and have a huge network you can tap into. Amplifiers adore connecting people with others
Decide on Event Signposting. What is your call to action at the event? This will be closely aligned to your goal. Maybe it’s to ask people to follow you on Instagram, connect on LinkedIn, subscribe to your podcast or sign up for an upcoming masterclass. Make sure you keep this clear and focused, one action at a time. Do not ask people to follow you everywhere. Pick the platform you are focusing on right now in your business and start there. If you are running a new training soon, then talk about that and ask people to share with others who may be interested.
Choose the networking space that is right for you
Now the planning and preparation are complete, you are ready to enter a networking space. Today you have a choice of 3 networking spaces to inhabit:
1- Online group
2- In-Person Meetings
3- Big Events
Every networking group has its own style and culture. Ask other people where they go. You will soon get a variety of options and hear the different ways the groups operate. Some are more casual, others regimented. Find the one that suits your personality. If you attend one and it doesn’t feel right – leave! Then try another group.
A few energy saving tips for big events:
– Check out who is going in advance and make contact with people you would love to meet with.
– Make sure you put your photo on your business cards so you’re more easily remembered.
– Head outside at break times. If there’s someone you wish to speak to, take them with you! Or go for dinner or a drink. If possible, arrange to stay at or close by the venue so it’s easy to step away and recharge.
Step 3: Post Networking Event Process
Designate the day after a big networking day as “me-time”. Keep this day free of calls and other outward commitments. Give yourself extra time to recuperate and gather your thoughts. Start with the post networking process below, and reach out while you are fresh in others’ minds and you can also recall your conversations easily!
Follow-Up Always. Book Follow-Ups the day after with the people you have connected with in person at the event. You will stand out in their minds by just taking this simple step. Ask if you can meet 121 to get to know them better.
The real magic of networking happens outside the room where others think it’s happening! Networking is all about conversations and relationship building. Conversations then lead to conversions.
Social Support. Beyond following profiles and liking posts, actually write a few lines and bring value to the conversations happening on people’s social media posts. Share articles linked to your IRL conversations on the social platforms that you both frequent. Tag people only when you know it’s an area of interest to them or they can contribute an expert view point to the discussion. Being an extra pair of eyes is priceless and will leave you top of mind. With networking you need to be, in Bob Burg’s words “a Go-Giver” first. Do check out his book on this, by the same name.
The rewards of networking are amazing when you make the effort. Always be open to new conversations and don’t judge a book by it’s cover either! I have lost count of the number of conversations I have had that started in one space only to discover the person owned several businesses in very different spaces which then overlapped into my field.
When I look back at the relationships that I have made from stepping out of my comfort zone and attending networking events, whether small or large, every day when I suffered the Introvert Hangover was worth it. (And yes, that’s a real thing that you can learn more about here).
Take a strategic look at how networking could benefit your business, and what frequency you can commit to, then instigate a plan!
Susanna Reay is Europe’s #1 Online Business Coach for Introverts on a mission! As a digital course expert, author and speaker Susanna has supported over 1000 introverted entrepreneurs globally since 2015. She helps introverted coaches and consultants create high value offers that connect with their clients, while maintaining their own energy boundaries to avoid burnout so that they can achieve the sustainable income and lifestyle they desire. Susanna is the founder of The Introvert Way® and her first book, The Introvert Way Roadmap was published in 2021.