Women leading women

How to make business connections as an introvert!

Imagine this scenario…

Your name has been ticked on the register at the door and a badge has been slapped on your jacket ready to announce to the room who you are and how exactly how you can be of use to anyone.

Having been directed to the table of coffee and croissants you automatically walk over and help yourself, only realizing afterwards that you don’t have enough limbs to carry your coffee, croissant AND bag whilst still being able to do the obligatory shaking of hands with everyone you meet. You don’t even know why you picked up a croissant. You’ve already had breakfast and your mouth is so dry and your stomach so unsettled that eating anything right now is clearly going to be disastrous.

Placing the croissant back down on the table and hoping no-one saw you pick it up in the first place, you scour the room.

Groups of people are huddled together in a seemingly relaxed state like they’ve known each other forever. There’s a buzz of chatting, laughing, suits, handshakes, business cards…they all seem to be having a whale of a time.

But you? This is your absolute worst nightmare.

You’ve got to go up to these people. These strangers, that you’ve never met before. And sell yourself. Exude confidence, charisma and charm until they fall at your feet and beg you to work with them before handing over their hard earned cash.

You’ve never felt more out of your comfort zone in your life. And as you stand there staring at the busy room, you think to yourself – ‘What the hell am I doing here?’

Hmm, fun, right? NOT!

Does the above scenario sound familiar at all?

Maybe you’ve experienced something similar. Or perhaps it’s the scary vision that goes round and round your head whenever the dreaded word is mentioned.

Networking.

Whether you like it or not, networking is hugely important to running a business. It’s all about making connections with people who will read your blog, help spread the word, collaborate with you and ultimately hand over their money. Without them your business is worth nothing, zilch, nada.

But networking doesn’t have to mean putting yourself through the scary ordeals of your worst nightmares.

If you are more on the introverted side of the scale and find the idea of walking into a busy room of strangers exhausting, there are many other ways that you can make genuine connections with people (without losing your confidence or sanity).

Read on to find out how…

Get online

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn…the options are endless. Social Media has been the talk of our times over the last few years and has been a particularly fantastic development for introverts who are running businesses. From the safety of your own home you can reach out to others who you’ve never met, join in conversations with people who have something interesting to say, and make genuine connections that will help spread the word about what you do. Not a scary business card in site!

Grab a cuppa 1:1

If the idea of going to a networking event brings you out in a cold sweat, then how about making things more intimate. Meeting up with someone who you’ve already connected with online can be way more beneficial than throwing yourself into the deep end. You will have already had the chance to scope each other out online, plus you can choose a relaxed environment and simply have a natter over a cuppa. It’s just a nice morning out of the office!

Make the most of connections you already have

We all have a certain amount of connections through friends and family, so make the most of what you have already. It can be much easier to talk to people you know already so get the message out there to friends and family. Just a simple email to your personal list can do the trick. It’s amazing what business you can get from friends of friends but it will only happen if they know what you’re up to!

Check out training events

Events that are purely about networking can often feel daunting because the whole event is based around meeting people. So how about trying events where there are other things going on? There are plenty of events around that include presentations and workshops which can serve as a great opportunity to make new connections without it being the entire focus of the day.

Do your research and find events that suit you

The scenario up top may scare the living daylights out of you but it’s certainly not how all networking events roll. These days there are plenty of groups that are actively closing the door on salesy, pitchy, suity events in favour of more intimate relaxed get togethers. They can serve as a chance to learn from each other and make new friends. Do your research and find events where your kind of people hang out. And if going all on your todd makes you nervous, then take a friend. Simple!

The most important factor when it comes to networking is to discover what works for you. It’s important to challenge yourself and push yourself out of your comfort zone now and again, but you’ll be most successful with whatever you do if you find your flow and do what works for you. So ditch worrying about those salesy events. You never needed them anyway.

* Thanks to Kathryn for this great article – and if you’re looking for the perfect way to take your business to the next level, in a truly collaborative supportive environment (that isn’t about pitching your business), checkout the Women Unlimited Business Clubs in your local area. They’re launching right now and provide the perfect blend of training, brainstorming and support, to help all women grow their business, regardless of personality type!

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.

12 Comments
  1. Tuija MM says

    I wish I could take my dog with me to these networking events. I have no trouble talking with people after getting over the hard part, the Barrier of Introduction. During the 2 years of life with a dog I’ve noticed that he has introduced me to more people than I ever managed alone. It is so easy to start the conversation when there is an “excuse” like a dog for some nice comment. And not just with “dog people”. People just start talking where ever I go with him. I wish I had a similar excuse in networking events.

    Someone should write a book or make a video guide about how to start a conversation in networking events…. Maybe someone already did?

    Thank You for the post! 🙂

    1. Kathryn Hall says

      That’s such a great idea Tuija! Someone should create dog walking network events – I’m sure they’d do fantastically well!

      1. Jayne Ryan says

        That’s actually a fantastic idea – a women’s version of men doing business on the golf course? I have 2 beagles and have had the same amazing experience – meeting so many people who would never normally stop and talk…

        1. Brida Anderson says

          Yes, I’d love to go to such networking “walks”. Maybe throw in a stationary element – dog training on a clearing or such – for people to mingle better …
          People who know me always shake their head when I say I am shy but Kathryn’s description in the blogpost made me really break out in cold sweat. I hate walking up to people I don’t know. Worse if I want to show them something I created. Gah! 🙂

          1. Kathryn Hall says

            Well, it sounds like there’s definitely a need for doggy walking networking! Not a dog owner myself unfortunately otherwise I’d be on it!

  2. Janice Taylor says

    I can really relate to this post, like the idea of a dog walking network event even though I don’t have a dog.

  3. Kerry Harvey-Piper says

    All too familiar a scenario – makes me break into a sweat just reading it! I’ve developed a few techniques that help me get past that first awkward intro:
    1. I make a personal rule that I won’t leave a networking event without talking to at least 3 people I’ve never met (I did this first at a conference abroad and it led to a great business contact, so ever since then I’ve kept making myself do this)
    2. I often pick out someone else who’s not talking to anyone and go up and say something like, “these events are daunting, aren’t they? My name’s Kerry, what’s yours?”. Most times, someone on their own is just hugely relieved that they didn’t have to make the first move.
    3. Sometimes I pick out someone with a great bag/shoes/scarf/jewellery and compliment them – works a treat as a conversation opener, even with men (esp those with great shoes!).
    4. My dad was always brilliant at getting on with people in business, so if all else fails, I pretend to myself that I’m him and ‘put on’ a more extrovert personality.

    1. Kathryn Hall says

      Great tips Kerry, especially love the complement conversation opener. Who doesn’t love receiving a complement!?

      1. Julie Hall - Editor says

        I agree Kathryn! Great tips Kerry

  4. Crystal says

    I am attending the Stratford WU Business Club Discovery Session tomorrow at 10:00 and the picture you paint is exactly how I feel. Wish me luck.

    1. Julie Hall - Editor says

      Yay Crystal… Luckily the Business Clubs are not a networking event 🙂 – you’ll have the chance to sit down in a small group with some of the other women in the room and get to know them better. I’m really looking forward to seeing you tomorrow and don’t worry, you’ll find yourself among friends.

  5. Laney says

    Love this post, Kathryn. At first it felt so scarily accurate, but now I feel better because I know there are others who feel the same way, and you’re all successful, so thank you for increasing my confidence, I am so grateful to you.