An Introverts Guide to Networking
When's the last time you've met someone new? Now, with social media, it's much easier to do. But how much are you connecting with your new friends/followers?
Networking is more than like, follow, subscribe. To truly network for the purpose of building your business you have to engage, interact, connect. This can be a lot for some people, especially those who are not as social or outgoing. Luckily, the internet makes this easy too.
Reaching Out Over WiFi
For anyone who's ever been to a networking event, it can be a little nerve-wracking. Typically these events are specialized enough so there's something in common between attendees. Whether it's sponsored by a certain industry or interest, there's at least one thing you probably already have in common with everyone else, besides the fact you're looking to network.
Not looking to go out to an event? Not to worry, there are so many ways to network online. The number of social media apps seems to grow and evolve at a rapid rate. Connect with industry professionals on LinkedIn, influencers in your field are most likely on Instagram, and join a Twitter party for just about any virtual event. Best of all, you can do all of this from the comfort of your couch—an introvert's dream.
For those who find it difficult going up to someone at a conference, reaching out online could also come with some hesitation. However, these social sites are designed for you to get to know the person you're about to contact. Scroll through their feed and see what connections you can already make. Now you have an in.
Social media may make it a little too easy to reach out. With so much information about a person out there for the world to see, some may think it's okay to overstep. While you're drafting that direct message, ask yourself an important question: would I say this to the person's face? Having a screen in between certainly makes people brave, even introverts, but that doesn't excuse passing judgment based only on what you see in a profile. It also doesn't permit harassment.
Set Reasonable Expectations
When you go to an in-person networking event, introducing yourself to someone face-to-face is almost guaranteed to get some form of response. While it may not be an instant connection or offer, it's not likely the person will simply ignore you.
However, networking online may make it easy to reach out to as many people as you want, but that doesn't mean everyone will respond. Whether you use email or social media, you still need to keep your expectations in check. Don't be discouraged if your correspondence goes unanswered, your post doesn't get a like, or your follow doesn't get a follow-back.
One way to help focus your expectations is to set a reasonable goal. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Make one meaningful connection. It helps to do more than simply like a post.
2. Ask a pertinent question, either on someone's post or on your feed.
3. Ask someone in your network to introduce you to someone in their network.
4. Do one thing outside your comfort zone.
Whether it's a cold call, email, or post. Being vulnerable can open you up to more opportunities.
Keep the Momentum Going
Once you've set your goals and expectations, start chipping away at them. Start crossing tasks off your list and then add a new one. Build upon these experiences and watch how it builds your network in the process.
While you keep the goal ball rolling, make sure you don't roll off track. After you've spent all this time making connections and growing your network, they still want to hear from you. If you stop interacting and engaging, it's just as easy for your new-found followers to fade away.
Find ways to stay motivated, even if it's crafting a batch of content at the same time when you're feeling extra inspired. Then slowly release what you've created at a steady pace. Not only is this better than an overwhelming content dump, but the slow trickle of information keeps your name fresh in their minds. It's easy enough to schedule posts for the future, or simply keep a digital file of them and copy/paste when ready.
There are going to be days when motivation lags and your inner-critic has the floor. This is true for intro- or extroverts alike. Power through by remembering why you're doing this in the first place. Building a network of support is crucial in any area of life. It's worth the work and gets easier with practice and persistence.