By: Bina Mathews
Networking is important. But what can you do if you’re the type of person who is not too keen on the whole “talk-to-as-many-people-as-you-can” networking trope? What should be the modus operandi for the introverts among us?
To answer this question, we first need to understand what being an introvert really means. To begin with, “introvert” does not mean “shy.” Shyness is a social anxiety, while being introverted just means you prefer solitude and quiet instead of being in the thick of things.
Being introverted also does not mean being oblivious to or disengaged from everything around you. On the contrary, since they have more time to absorb what’s happening around them, process it, and reflect on it quietly, introverts tend to have more in-depth knowledge and understanding of their subject areas.
Here are five tips on how introverted entrepreneurs can navigate the networking arena and successfully build useful connections to grow both themselves and their businesses.
Adopt a new perspective.
We all perceive reality through our own individual mental and emotional filters. The great thing about this is that it means we can change our reality just by changing our filter. Viewing networking through a positive lens, where you concentrate on the outcome of the affair, rather than the experience itself, can help introverts view it in a more favorable light.
At the end of the event, practicing self-appreciation and engaging in reflection to identify the favorable outcomes you’ve gained throughout the experience will aid in eliminating the negative outlook you might have toward networking. Acknowledge your achievement, appreciate your efforts, and recall this positive feeling of success before your next networking event. Repeat it after the event. In time, it will become a natural state of mind, going a long way toward dispelling the anxiety that used to precede such encounters.
Determine what you wish to gain from your interactions.
Engaging in goal-driven conversations will help you foster meaningful dialogue and yield results. Clearly define the outcome you want from the experience. Keeping your goal in mind will help you stay anchored and allow you to guide the conversation, instead of feeling lost and helplessly swept away.
[Related: 7 Tips for Effective Networking]
Present another aspect of yourself.
Put on your persona — and no, this does not mean you have to be fake. Remember, you are doing this for your business. So step aside and put on your company’s persona.
Much like Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak, it will make you disappear, instead allowing your company to be in the driver’s seat. This will immediately remove all the pressure you put on yourself.
Take it one step at a time.
Identify your comfort zone and set a limit for your interactions. Start with a few people for a certain amount of time, and gradually increase that number as you feel more comfortable. For example, you might tell yourself: “I will talk to only two people for fifteen minutes each, and leave.”
Once you have done this, and if you still feel comfortable, you can increase it to just two more people, maybe for twenty minutes each. This keeps you in control, and breaks down what was a huge and daunting proposition into something small and easily manageable.
Be inspired by an extrovert.
Find an extrovert you look up to and notice the way they deliver themselves, then consciously — at least initially — model their behavior. Step into their shoes and become them. In time, you will form your own unique style.
At the end of the day, networking is about making deep, meaningful connections with people who can help you take you and your business a step further. One solid lead is worth a ton of useless business cards. Keep this in mind, and free yourself from the pressure of the numbers game.
Bina Mathews is a master NLP coach, certified hypnotherapist, and communications consultant. She loves enabling people to find their purpose and live their best lives.
Originally published at https://www.ellevatenetwork.com.