Guest Post by Bo Miller.
An African proverb states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”
If you want to reach your business and personal goals, networking isn’t just important. It’s imperative. You need other people’s help to succeed.
Fortunately, networking doesn’t have to involve hoards of people and endless small talk. You can network in a way that works for you. As an introvert, you are especially well equipped to forge lasting connections that will take you where you want to go.
The key is developing a style that fits your unique introvert personality. To do that, check out these 5 suggestions.
1. Develop a positive mindset.
Almost every personal development book begins with or focuses on mindset. Why is that? The reason is what you think about yourself determines your level of success.
If you believe, for instance, you are a terrible networker, you’ll focus on your mistakes and the words you fudge during conversation. As a result, you’ll downplay your successes and erode your confidence.
If, however, you focus on what you’re doing right, you’ll build momentum. Even your failures will take you closer to your goals.
John C. Maxwell says that momentum is like a train:
“The largest locomotive in the New York Central system, while standing still, can be prevented from moving by a single one-inch block of wood placed in front of each of the eight drive wheels! The same locomotive, moving at 100 miles per hour, can crash through a wall of steel-reinforced concrete five feet thick. The only difference is momentum.”
You can revolutionize your networking future by changing your thoughts.
2. Be strategic.
You need to guard your energy. You are, after all, an introvert. Any networking strategy that suggests you go out and stay out is bad advice. Here are three far better ideas.
A. Determine how much energy you have to spend.
How often can you afford to be out? (Once a week? Once a month?)
How long can you stand to stay out? (An hour? Two? Three?)
Be honest with yourself. Push too hard and you’ll actually accomplish less, so respect your energy needs.
B. Figure out who you need to talk to.
You don’t have to talk to everyone at a networking event. On the contrary, you may only need to talk to one person to reach your goals.
Prior to any networking event, do a little research. Figure out who’ll be there and who you want to talk to. Then, prepare to have meaningful conversations by researching each person’s interests, goals, and accomplishments.
C. Use the internet to plan ahead.
Try to get in touch with the people you want to talk to at the conference, meeting, or networking event before you leave. Call, email, or connect over social media. When you do, schedule a time to talk at the event. Doing this will enable you to a) make the most of your time, b) hook up with the right people, and c) preserve your energy.
3. Be generous.
The best networking advice I’ve ever received is: Focus on what you can do for others.
Want to impress someone?
Introduce her to someone she wants to meet.
Tell her about a great tool or resource that can solve her biggest problem.
Offer a kind word.
Provide honest feedback.
Aim to do as Steve Siebold suggests: Focus your “conversation on the other people, getting them to talk about their lives.” They won’t soon forget you.
4. Step out of your comfort zone.
How do you break through your discomfort with small talk and first-time meetings? Try these two strategies.
A. Treat first-time meetings like band-aids.
I hate ripping off band-aids. It hurts like crazy – especially when you lose hair!
I’ve tried to ease the pain by soaking band-aids in water and waiting a day, but no matter what I try, it’s still a painful experience.
The sooner I rip a band-aid off the better.
Meeting new people is like ripping off a band-aid in that you’ll probably never love introducing yourself to and chatting with a stranger. But the sooner you start the sooner you’ll establish relationships you do enjoy.
B. Read your discomfort like you would a compass.
Seth Godin says that fear can be a compass that leads us to success. Because our brains crave familiarity and comfort, they don’t want us to do anything new or out of the ordinary – such as meeting a stranger. But doing what are brains don’t want us to do is often the best path to growth.
Instead of running from fear, try leaning into it. Recognize that it’s normal, and interpret it as a sure sign you should say “Hello”.
5. Be remarkable.
What sets you apart from the masses? You have a great personality, no doubt, but people don’t always see it at first. To set yourself apart from the crowd, try these techniques.
A. Wear a whatsit.
A whatsit is an article of clothing or an accessory that functions as a conversational piece. Do you have a favorite hat, a special watch or tie, or a fun pin? Where it!
People will take notice, and ask you about it. Then, when the conversation starts, you’ll be able to segue into more meaningful topics.
B. Be personal when you follow up.
When you follow up with a new connection, send him a personal note or email that shows you were interested in him and what he had to say. Mention specifics such as…
Anything he said that you appreciated
Let him know you were listening.
Furthermore, be concise and helpful in your writing. If you can share resources or connections you didn’t think to mention during conversation, do so in your follow up letter or email. You, as an introvert, are an excellent writer; leverage this strength.
Jayson Gaignard recommends sending personal voice messages or videos via email. Your voice and visage communicate more than just your words alone, and far fewer people are sending these kinds messages, so they’re a good way to get noticed.
What networking strategies do you use to connect with others and go far?