“Your network is your net worth.” Grace (not her real name) has heard that a million and one times. She believes the absolute truth in that statement and appreciates the fact that in order for her to advance to the next level, businesses-wise, she must expand her networks far and wide. But there is this one little problem that stands on her way.
Grace is shy. So shy that she looks for tables to hide under every time she finds herself in a room with more than five people. You see, Grace is the kind of person who enters a room and no one notices, she almost tip toes. In an event, she likes to sit right at the back row, that’s her comfort zone. As far as she is concerned, sitting at the front is a reserved for the confident and intelligent. The thought of the speaker or presenter engaging her with a question, or asking her to comment on something, is nightmarish.
Please don’t ask Grace to stand and introduce herself in a crowd, that will be the end of her. Her knees will buckle; she will shake uncontrollably. Grace will try to utter a letter, but nothing will come out. Her throat will run dry and her vocal chords scamper for safety. She just can’t!
So the other day I sat down with her for a one-on-one consulting session geared towards improving her networking skills. And I was amazed! Grace is a rare gem. As intelligent as they come! She has a very in-depth understanding of her business. Her vision is humongous! It challenged me. I sought to understand her personality, and yes you guessed it right, she is an introvert. Overly introverted.
Can you relate with Grace’s situation?
This begs the question, how can introverts network effectively? Below are a few pointers:
- Practice Networking with family and friends
They are your immediate network. You are comfortable in your skin around this category of people. Leverage on that and begin to exercise your networking skills as though you are out there in a networking forum.
- Adequately prepare before attending a networking forum
What do I mean by preparation? Research about the event, sometime it will take you calling the event organizer to gather more details. Find out who the speakers are, what topic they are presenting – research and familiarize yourself with it. Search profiles of the people in attendance, and zero on the specific ones you would like to meet on the material day. Preparation will boost your confidence, all of sudden you will start dealing with known and not otherwise.
- Be yourself
There is no need to act up in order to fit in. Be yourself in every sense of the word. If you are not a talker, that is fine. Do not attempt to keep up with the loudest person in the room. The good thing about authenticity is that is attracts those of the same trait.
- Tag a friend along
Bring a friend with you in a networking event. Ideally one who has an outgoing personality. They will serve well as your wing-man. At least you won’t be that person who sat alone in a corner for a whole two hours.
Any other pointer? Engage me in the comment box.