As an introvert, I’ve struggled in the past with the idea of attending networking events. One on one with a client and I am fine but throw me in a room with strangers and the anxiety is extreme.
For a long time, I thought I would always need to rely on an extrovert to handle the networking and I would run the day to day business. While this was exactly how I built Solten Marketing, the feeling of unsatisfaction was always rearing its ugly head. I knew I had to figure out how to get over my anxiety and began to look for unique ways to step into my true self.
I began to question a lot of the typical networking advice. It seems as though most of the self-proclaimed gurus and marketing experts tell self-employed professionals – “Go to networking events and meet new people,” “Speak in front of groups to show you’re the expert” or “Just call people and start a conversation.”
Enter eye roll and sarcasm – Right, if only it were that easy.
If you’re an extrovert and love being the center of attention then this advice is perfect because these skills come easy and naturally to you. However, if you have introverted qualities like me, you’d rather add another tick to reasons why your business failed than stand in front of a group of strangers and stumble over your words. Even the thought of being in a room full of strangers makes you want to curl up in the fetal position and cry. Can you still market effectively if you simply can’t cold call, speak in public or create small talk in a room full of strangers?
Shocker, the answer is yes!
First, know you’re not alone. It is estimated that 25 to 50 percent of the USA consider themselves as having introverted qualities. The solution is as easy as finding what comes naturally and effortless to you. You have skills, talents, and gifts that come easy to you. Make a list of those qualities and integrate them into your networking plan.
How to network & market your business like a pro as an introvert.
One of my biggest pet peeves is being labeled. We as humans do it all the time. I’m always late, I’m bad at dating, I have no luck with money, I’m clumsy and so on. These are all labels we place on ourselves, sometimes without even thinking about it. The problem with labeling ourselves is they subconsciously become a part of our identity and it becomes harder to “break away” when we are looking to grow or challenge ourselves.
Introversion is one of those labels because there are so many different layers to it. You might enjoy spending time with close friends but fear larger crowds or you might hate both large and small gatherings. Only you know who you are and how you fit on the introvert/extrovert spectrum. I say this so you use these marketing ideas a guide, not as gospel. Don’t be afraid to ignore what strategies don’t fit you or to use these ideas as a starting point to build your own plan. I’d love to hear other ways you overcome your introvert-ness so share them with me below in the comments.
THE PROBLEM: One of the most uncomfortable things about networking events is when you arrive at an event. It seems like everyone is in cliques and you’re on the outside.
THE SOLUTION: Bring a friend. A great way to break the ice with potential clients and people is through introductions. Introduce your friend to someone and have them introduce you. It is so much easier to introduce another person and talk about them than it is to talk about yourself! After the ice is broken, try to have a few interesting pieces to talk about above and beyond your elevator pitch.
TIP: Having a companion will make the event much more bearable but as you get more comfortable speaking to strangers, break away from your partner for a few minutes and try an introduction on your own. You just might surprise yourself.
Choose Events Wisely
THE PROBLEM: Mixers are hard when the only structure is small talk and what do you do questions.
THE SOLUTION: A great way for introverts to shine is at workshop style events. At these events, only a small portion of time is geared towards introductions and networking, while the rest is built around a workshop or type of event.
TIP: If you can’t find an event in your area that fits your needs don’t be afraid to start your own. You can create a small mastermind type group that allows you to meet a few like-minded business associates which can easily turn into referral sources for your business.
Small Talk is Not Our Thing
THE PROBLEM: At large events, it is difficult and uncomfortable to have a meaningful conversation and meaningful conversations are what most introverts seek rather than small talk.
THE SOLUTION: Invite business colleagues out for coffee or lunch (this is my favorite way of marketing). You can have a great conversation and really create a true bond with the person you’re talking with.
TIP: As you grow your business circle, try to expand your lunches/coffee meetings to include 2 or 3 business owners who serve similar clients. This will allow you to introduce other comparable businesses to each other and give you all an opportunity to possibly collaborate together.
THE PROBLEM: As an introvert one of the biggest fears is not having anything to say. When you get put on the spot it seems as though your mind goes blank and you can’t find the words.
THE SOLUTION: Practice makes perfect. Your elevator pitch is a quick 10 – 30-second explanation of what you do. Make it simple so it is easy for you to practice daily and memorize. This way when you are put on the spot it is easier to know what you want to say.
TIP: Take it beyond the elevator pitch by preparing a small list of questions or topics you’d like to talk about.
Umm, Can I Speak to _____?
THE PROBLEM: Talking with a prospective client on the phone is the best way to communicate but what if calling someone makes you feel those butterflies in your stomach?
THE SOLUTION: Do not hesitate to write an email or text message. If the person is already familiar with you, emails and text are a very acceptable way of following up. Cold email is becoming an interesting way to get potential prospects interested in your services.
TIP: As an introvert, we have a great ability to keep things short and sweet. This is an incredible skill for cold emailing since the shorter the email the more likely it will be read.
Visualizing Your Success
THE PROBLEM: When you think about attending a networking event you see yourself hanging out at the corner, alone, feeling vulnerable and most likely having a look of fear or sadness on your face. How close am I?
THE SOLUTION: It’s time to create a different mind picture/association with networking. Create a movie in your mind of you arriving at an event, being greeted enthusiastically, having a big smile on your face and meeting the right connections at the right time. How much better does this feel?
TIP: Don’t just stop at networking! Visualize success for your whole business. See yourself helping make a difference in your clients’ lives, earning the exact amount of money you want to make and truly making a difference.
Put Yourself Out There
THE PROBLEM: As an introvert, I hate the phrases – put yourself out there or step outside your comfort zone. It brings up all the feelings of being uncomfortable, awkward and doing things I don’t really want to do.
THE SOLUTION: Blog posts, social media posts, articles or writing a book can be an excellent way to have people find you. This way when they reach out to you, they already have knowledge of who you are and how you can help. This makes the initial conversation a lot easier and right up an introverts alley.
As an introvert, you have a competitive edge.
Where most extroverts can meet a lot of people and collect hundreds of business cards, in the long run, an introvert can win at the game of business. It is hard to continually meet and greet, smile and dial while building true lasting relationships that develop into meaningful referral partners and clients. Your desire to have true relationships and meaningful conversations makes it a lot easier for an introvert, like yourself, to have genuine follow up. Which is the whole point of networking anyway, right? Embrace the positive sides of being an introvert and you will see success!