It is a common misconception that all entrepreneurs are extroverts. The misconception perpetuates with the thought that networking comes easy for entrepreneurs because they are all extroverts. Nothing could be further from the truth. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs are, in fact, introverts.
Some of the big names in entrepreneurial introversion include: Larry Page (Google), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Elon Musk (Tesla, SpaceX). These highly successful introverts have found a way to work around, through and with their introversion to reach out and make powerful connections.
If you are an introverted entrepreneur, listen up. You can network and make valuable connections if you take the right approach and stop trying to be an extrovert. Here’s how:
- Make Goals
Start small. Make goals for how many networking events you will attend. Make goals for the number of new connections you wish to have. Follow through with your plan. Too often an introvert will attempt to be somebody they are not. Don’t expect to keep up with your extroverted friends in terms of conversational ease and number of cards you hand out.
You are an introvert, which means you are better one-on-one anyway. Focus on the one or two people you really wish to talk to, and let the rest go, for now.
- Show up
It has been said that at least 50% of success is just showing up. If you make a goal to attend a networking event, go. If you make a goal to contact one new person this week, make the call. Don’t talk yourself out of it.
Even if you stand in the corner at an event and only talk to one person, that one connection might make all the difference. As an introvert, your relationships with others are more about quality than quantity.
This may sound creepy, but technology can be an introvert’s best friend. You can learn a lot about a person by searching them on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms. The more you know about a person when you meet them, the more you will know how to guide the conversation. This should eliminate some fear of conversation and allow you to prepare for possible discussion topics, as well as to find common ground.
- Have confidence
As an introvert, it may feel natural to assume that everyone is judging you, but this is not true. Not everybody you meet is judging you. Most people are so worried about themselves that they don’t have time to judge you.
Before you go to an event, or meet someone for the first time, go stand in front of a mirror and put your hands on your hips in a power pose, like Wonder Woman, or Superman. Tell yourself that you are worth meeting, and act like it. Smile. Shake hands with confidence. Ask questions, and listen.
- Create a Tagline
How would you describe yourself in one line? More specifically, what do you do that is different or interesting? If you are attending a networking event full of entrepreneurs, introducing yourself as John, the entrepreneur, probably won’t get you much attention.
Think specifics. Are you an author of children’s books? Are you an accountant who specializes in dealing with veterinarians? Are you a lady who sews wildly popular doll dresses? You get the idea…
The more immediate questions your chosen tagline evokes, the better for you when meeting new people. There are not many better ways to break the ice for an introvert than for others to start asking you questions.
Practice your tagline over and over. If you’ve ever seen the television series “Royal Pains” (USA Network, 2009-2016), you will know how this works by observing the character “Evan R. Lawson, CFO of HankMed”. He says it everywhere he goes and it is extremely memorable (if not slightly annoying).
- Get Involved
Instead of merely attending events, look for opportunities to volunteer at an event. You will find it much easier to engage in conversation with others if you are responsible for collecting donations, dishing food, or manning a raffle.
The main point for you as an introvert is to stack the deck in your favor and play to your strengths. You will likely never be able to play the room like an extrovert, but you can position yourself to reap the rewards of a good solid plan for networking.
Good luck and happy networking!
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