Does this sound familiar? You get excited when plans with other people fall through, because you can settle in with a good book or relax at home. When you do go out to business events or do some networking, you need time to rejuvenate because you feel a little drained.
You might have friends and colleagues who thrive when they’re around people, and go stir crazy if they’re left to their own devices for too long.
That’s the big difference between being an introvert and an extrovert: you feel refreshed and gain energy after spending time by yourself, or with people. If you gain energy being alone, you’re most likely an introvert, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy time with others.
It also doesn’t mean that your business can’t benefit from networking events and conferences where you’ll meet other business owners and peers.
Here is my advice to you as an introverted business owner: treat networking like a form of marketing, you need to do it for to help your business grow and it can be fun if you approach it creatively!
1. Get Clear On Why You’re Meeting People
With any situation, it helps to go in prepared and with a specific ideal outcome in mind. If you want to meet 5 new peers or strategic partners, make friends, or get clients… you need to know, because that will inform what actions you take while you’re out networking.
One of the reasons we can get discouraged about attending networking events is having to explain what we do, and as ever-evolving business owners that might not come easy.
My best tip for you is to: Strive to make a connection, not just an impression.
When you’re meeting someone new, there are 2 stances you might be tempted to take:
1) to impress the person with a fancy title or description of what you do, or
2) to connect with them through the work your do or the things you value.
In the first instance you might say that you’re a consultant, business owner, head of communications, or an author. These words are very vague and don’t give people an in to ask you more about how you might be able to help them or people they might know.
So what should you say to people you meet with your short 30 second elevator pitch?
I say start with the results you deliver to your ideal clients.
2. Write Down Your Elevator Pitch and Practice
For example, you might say that you help musicians sell their music online. Or that you design jewelry for men who want to surprise their wives for their anniversary. Or that you work with nurses to relieve stress from their care-giving roles through aroma therapy.
Each of these examples are super specific, and you’ll know if you’re a musician, husband, or nurse that you’ve met someone you need to learn more from. Or, if you know someone who fits these descriptions you’ll pass on the person’s contact details and make a referral.
You want your elevator speech to arouse a little curiosity, so that the person you’re speaking to wants to ask you to elaborate.
3. Decide Who Will Follow-Up
One of the downsides of meeting people in person at a networking event is that there’s no clear “who is going to call you first” rule. If you both exchange business cards, you might not hear back from each other because both sides are wondering who should make the first move.
The way to get around that is to type someone’s email directly into your phone and set yourself a task to follow-up right when you leave or get home. This also avoids the daunting “go through the pile of business cards” dilemma that most of us face after attending a big event.
Or, you can tell the people you meet that you’d prefer to decide ahead of time who will get in touch. As an introvert you might be overwhelmed by trying to keep in touch with everyone you meet, but just know that you have permission to just follow-up and stay in touch with those people you felt a connection with at the event.
You don’t need to become best friends with every person you meet, but you should make it easy for yourself to follow-up with interested clients or potential partners.
Nathalie Lussier is a business strategist and digital visionary behind the Off The Charts web show, where she helps people re-imagine what’s possible for their businesses. Click here to sign up for her weekly show!