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Networking While Introverted

October 01, 20233 min read

“If we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won’t succeed. We can’t pursue the benefits of networks; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships.” —Adam Grant

Networking with people you don’t know can be challenging, especially for entrepreneurial sellers and sales professionals, who like me, identify as introverts. The anxiety that comes with connecting with new people, whether face-to-face or through virtual meetings, can be overwhelming. However, building a powerful network is essential for success in the world of sales.

One of the main reasons some people avoid networking is the awkwardness of having to talk in a room full of unknown people. The hard truth is that in sales, it's the connections you build that can make the most impact. The old saying, "It's not just what you know, but who you know," holds a lot of truth in this industry.

For those who consider themselves introverts, here are some networking tips to ease the process:

1. Set Reasonable Goals: It's important to approach networking with realistic expectations. Instead of expecting to leave a networking event with a long list of new clients or customers, try to focus on setting some small goals. For instance, set a goal to exchange contact information with 2-3 people you can help, 2-3 people that can help you, 2-3 people that can be customers or clients. Remember that these are goals, not requirements. If you don't achieve them all, it's not a failure; it's a learning experience.

2. Know How to Recharge: Introverts can find social events draining. If you're attending a business event, plan for some downtime afterward to recharge. Do not schedule other social activities on the same day as the networking event. Take time for yourself, whether it's relaxing at home or going for a walk, can help you regain your energy.

3. Listen More: Introverts are great at listening, which can be an advantage in networking. Instead of feeling pressured to talk, focus on asking good, thought-provoking questions or even icebreakers to keep conversations flowing. This approach not only allows you to gather valuable information about the people you meet, but also makes you appear to be more thoughtful, insightful, and genuinely interested in their needs and goals. I found the acronym FORM to be beneficial when needing to come up with great conversation starters or even when I need to keep a conversation going. FORM stands for FROM, OCCUPATION, RECREATION and finally MISSION. For example, ask about areas people are from, what they do or love most about their job or business, what they like to do for fun or recreation, and last, a mission or charity that they love giving their time to. Try asking questions like these and you will see conversations begin to flow so much easier for you. And remember, people love talking about themselves, so ask away!

4. Get Some Help: The initial introduction can be the most challenging part of networking for introverts. To make this process easier, consider getting the help of a more extroverted friend or colleague or even the host.  You can borrow some of their presence and confidence to ease your way into conversations with new people, making the experience less intimidating. Also, having a friend or colleague by your side in the beginning can reduce your discomfort throughout the rest of the event.

5. Embrace the Awkwardness: Networking events can be awkward for everyone, not just introverts. It's perfectly normal to encounter awkward moments of tension or silence during conversations. Rather than letting these moments fluster you, embrace them. You can even share a funny, lighthearted comment about the awkwardness, which can lead to bonding moments and relieve stress. Remember, you might not be the only introvert in the room so, others may appreciate your openness about the situation.

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Jaunai Walker

Jaunai Walker- International Personal Growth and Business Development Speaker, Coach & Trainer. Jay comes with over 19 years of sales and marketing experience in the education, medical and advertising industries. Jay is the Chief Inspiration officer at the Success group Inc. and the Founder of the Sales Success Society. She is dedicated to serving people and hopes to inspire both entrepreneurial & career sales professionals to be the absolute best version of themselves while selling their products and services. Jay is a devoted Christian, loves connecting with others & currently resides in South Florida.

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