How I Learned How to Network As An Introvert

How I Learned How to Network As An Introvert
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Who do you know? No, seriously. Who do you know?

Old friends from places you used to live or work, your family members, friends and people you’ve met through business. In one way or the other, all of them has had some kind of influence on you. Good or bad, they have all left some kind of impact on your success and happiness.

Think about the connections that you’ve made throughout your life. You’ve connect with thousands of people. A small portion of which are apart of your immediate life, your current life.  Many of whom have disappeared over time for what ever reason or another.

It’s important to acknowledge who you know and reflect on those you’ve met because it encompasses who you have become.  You don’t ever stop knowing these people. You just, for whatever reason, become disconnected from them. When it comes to your business or brand, while it is important to be aware of who you know, the bigger question is who would you like to know but right now do not?

There is power in who you know.

Not just connection power.

Growth power. Success power.

Fulfillment power.

As you progress, you will begin to understand the importance of not only knowing your connections, but keeping in contact with them and staring in front of them and offering some kind of value.  Understanding this will help you build your network and your personal wealth.

How well are you connected?

We all have a circle of influence. Inside these circles of influence, you may be a leader or apart of the team.  Sometimes you outgrow them. Sometimes you move on, but during their time in your lives they play a powerful role in your life. Whatever the connection, they are the ones you will go to when you need a push, when you need something or need to get in contact with someone new.

Many people try to do everything on their own. Either they feel comfortable using their connections, of they don’t know them well enough to ask for a favor.

Ever heard of the “six degrees of separation”? In theory, accordingly, you should be able to make six phone calls and get to somebody.  

The object of having a circle of influence is to do more than just climb the ladder. The point is to build relationships with those within your circle so that when you need to go a little further up that ladder, those around you are more inclined to come to your aid. 

Do you know how to make a connection?

Besides your circle of influence, you need to be able to rely on yourself to connect with others in your network. Even if they can’t help you, won’t help you or don’t help…you need to be able to help yourself.

The best jobs you’ve probably ever had or will ever have won’t be found in the classifieds.  You won’t get the job by making calls and inquiring about a position.  The best offers you’ve received probably came from a “hookup”. Knowing someone with a connection to the source. 

The best way to make a permanent connection is through networking

You can network anywhere – business hours, company event to a ball game or birthday party.  In all of these places there are people just like you, or people you want to meet and communicate with.  All you have to do is be aware and prepared.

Savvy and confident people start connections through casual conversation, engaging questions and meaningful dialogue and get to know each other. 

Don’t just make a connection, make a good one.

…a connection where you left a favorable impression on a person is the best kind of connection.  One that this person may talk about with another after your initial connection is over.  They may show someone your business card or pass on your information.

Create a reputation at the same time 

Your job is to expose yourself to your audience in a valuable way, so that you create some law of attraction, and some method by which others can connect with you. Most people have no concept of this strategy which makes it even all that more powerful.

It’s now who you know, its about who knows you.

A large number of business owners and individuals seeking to position themselves as authority figures in their fields have no concept of this strategy, which is why they fail to connect and gain attention in the manner in which they seek. 

The Rule of Drool…

When meeting important people, most people fail – miserably. They make the fatal mistake of trying to push their way to, or sell their way (drool) to the connection. They come on way too hard with all of this information that this person didn’t even ask for. Who they are, what they do – then to make matters worse, then beg for some sort of action, or immediate favor. In the networking arena begging gets you nowhere in fact – if anything – it will get you ignored and turned down.

When I am in close proximity of someone I want to bump elbows with I play it cool. Remaining in eye sight but just far enough out of reach to not appear as though I am deliberately trying to get their attention.  Come on, it’s the “flirt tactic” of networking. We’ve all done it. Standing two persons away from them by the bar. Waiting for someone you know to approach them and then casually making your way over to say hello.

 

Don’t drool. Don’t gravel. Don’t overpower them with gratitude or praise. Just…chill

During my talks with celebrities and other members of the affluent crowd, I was surprised to find out (in the beginning) that most feel awkward when meeting someone who continues to sing their praise. It makes them uneasy and uncomfortable. Most enjoy meeting people who are relaxed, collected and while they may look them are able to carry on a conversation with them as if they are just a regular person. They have people around them 24/7 telling them how great they are…they don’t need to hear it from you too. Especially when at the end of the conversation there is a pitch ready to be served.

Jenn, how do you prepare yourself for meeting important people?

You can start by preparing yourself. Do a little research. Nine times out of ten you are attending an event knowing in advance who the special attendees are going to be.  Find out what it is that they do and how you can be of assistance to them. Again…we are providing value. Look for common grounds, organizations you are both members of or causes you both support.  

Once you get them hooked, out of common courtesy, you may be asked what it is that they can do or provide you with in return. Your answer: Nothing. Absolutely, nothing at this moment. Or, if you are ready you can ask for 15 minutes of their time outside of the event to run some ideas by them.

Ask for nothing for yourself. Don’t be afraid to walk away.

Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and repeat after me.

Networking is simple.

Networking is powerful.

Networking makes connections.

Connecting is a process.

It gets easier and more enjoyable over time.

Got it? Good. Understand that networking is not an option. You never stop networking. It is a vital and important part of your overall success.

Between the hours of 9 and 5 you are doing business. Before and after that you are building your business. The most powerful part of any business is not done during normal business hours.

The question for us busy business folks is always how to incorporate networking into our already busy schedules? The truth is, even just 5 hours of networking a month can make a dramatic change to your business.

For people like me, who hate the rush crowds and would prefer to stay hidden away in our little caves, getting out and networking can be more of a task than a pleasure. Especially after long days and even colder nights. Sometimes you just don’t want to be bothered and that is completely normal.  For me, every single minute I am out mingling must count for something because I cannot honestly tell you when the next time I plan on gracing the world with my presence.

I have to network smart.

Over the years, I’ve picked a few strategies that have assisted me in networking smart so that I am getting the most out of my rare appearances. Obviously, I am not going to reveal all of my tricks, but I don’t mind sharing a few (wink).

If there are 100 people in a room and you only have two hours to network, you can only realistic speak to about 50% of them and possibly make 30 contacts. How long would it take you to make 30 contacts in a single room?

Network smart or you’ll network wrong – You went to an event and left with zero new contacts because you did it wrong. Either you are not following the basic fundamental rules of networking or you simply chose to network where your ideal audience are not present. If you are looking for affluent 6-figure making clients, why would you go to the local club to meet them? They probably won’t be there…and if they are they will be drunk to notice or care about you. Sorry. It’s the truth.

If it’s on the calendar, it’s a commitment – If I haven’t blocked off that date and time, more than likely I won’t go. Either it isn’t important enough to remember or I simply don’t care enough to go. If I mark it down and make note of it, chances are this is something I feel needs to be attended. I have adopted this “rule of 50 butts”. Meaning, if there are at least 50 buttocks present in the room…my buttocks needs to be the 51st.

Selecting event picking saves time – This is clear but I’ll elaborate. Picking the right types of events for you and/or your business needs is just as important as networking. Going to the wrong kinds of events, especially when you don’t really want to, take the umph out of networking. You get nothing out of it but wasted time and a bunch of thoughts of what you could be doing at that very moment. Select events that attract your ideal audience, the people you want to meet/be around and other professionals in your niche.

Be ready to explain yourself – The saying “I don’t have to explain myself to anyone…” doesn’t apply in the world of business and definitely not when it comes to connecting with other people. They don’t care what you do, they want to know how what you do can help. I am sure you have heard this over and over again. Know what the problems are and how you can solve them. Ask questions and show that you can help. Gaining interest leads to interested parties who become interested parties booking appointments.

The purpose of networking it to achieve engagement that leads to sales.

Practice by showing up – That’s the first step. Show up. Come prepared and interact. If you practice all the fundamental rules to networking, your chances of succeeding double in percentage. Work the room. Smile. Engage…and if you start to feel a little drained…sneak off to the restroom for a few minutes to collect yourself.

Watch your time and the clock – Don’t spend too much time with one single individual or you have just defeated the entire purpose of networking. Your objective is to take full advantage of having so many people in one single room. Every minute you spend with one person is one minute less you get to spend with another. Make every minute count!

Like with any strategy, I can't guarantee that this will work for you. I’m not you and unfortunately I cannot execute this task for you. The success of using these strategies I’ve shared lies solely on you and your willingness to make it work. Of course, you may want to tweak them a bit to fit your name, your business and your agenda…but overall if utilized properly, these can provide the basis for growing your networking power. 

Owner of Love My Black, LLC + Eighty5OH8 -Award Winning Blogger/Author | Viral Troublemaker | Mother of One | Brand and PR strategist