Networking for Introverts
Social media and the internet are both great but if you want to grow your business in-person networking is not optional. Many artists and creatives are introverts (I am 100%) but that doesn't mean we shouldn't make an effort and get out there. So I've put together some networking for introverts tips. My tips are based on Susan Cain's book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Stop Talking. I found the book very helpful and I use these tips myself.
Here's the scenario: There's an event you should attend. Potential clients will be there and it's a chance to meet some of them in person. On paper, there are lots of good reasons to go. When it comes time to get ready, all you really want to do is stay home and read and hang out with the dog. Driving to the venue there will likely be traffic, then you'll have a hard time finding a place to part. Not to mention you have to wear something other than sweatpants. OMG it's so exhausting! So, you end up staying home, ordering a pizza and meeting no one. Peaceful? Yes. Productive? No. How do I know? This is a true story. :-)
As much as I love spending time at home with Mr. Bear, I know have to make an effort to attend in-person events. In fact, it's become one of my major goals this year and I've done pretty well with it. Here are some thoughts on networking for introverts based on Susan Cain's book. I use all of these in my efforts.
- Start small and set yourself a quota. You don't have to go to every event under the sun. Pick just a few that you think will be productive and interesting and when you have met your social quota for the month allow yourself to skip the rest. I managed to go to three events in January of this year - that's almost one per week and I was very proud that I accomplished that.
- It's okay to leave early. Once you've been there for a while and are done, go ahead and leave. Better to leave early and not feel overwhelmed. Besides, that way you leave them wanting more.
- Don't think about it as networking (that often has a negative sales-y connotation) think of it as finding kindred spirits. See, it's all about how you frame it!
- Give yourself space in between. Don't plan to socialize right after a hectic day meeting clients. We introverts tend to have a limit for interacting with and talking to people and if you think you can handle an entire day of that, great, I applaud you. I know I can't so if I'm going to an event I know I will need quiet time before and after to be able to decompress.
- Have an accountability partner. My close friends know how easy it can be for me to be a complete hermit so when I'm committed to going out I will tell them where I'm going. That way I feel like I really have to go or they will know I flaked.
- Reward yourself when you accomplish your goal of going out. If I meet my social quota I reward myself with a new book or a great meal at home.
Chances are once you go out things will go well and you'll be more encouraged to attend other events. Getting started is the hardest part but hopefully these tips will help. Accept your introverted nature - at least one third of the people we know are introverts - and do things, like networking, in a way that works for you.
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