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4 Networking Tips for Successful But Introverted Entrepreneurs

Being an introvert doesn’t preclude you from networking effectively

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networking for introverts
Image Credit: Midjourney

When picturing a successful entrepreneur at a big event, many envision a talkative, energetic life of the party, a common perception in American culture where gregariousness is often celebrated. However, this overlooks the quieter type of leader, despite 36% of entrepreneurs self-identifying as introverts.

If you fall into that category, you may find it harder to network. In that case, you’ll need to implement specific strategies to ensure you don’t slack off with your networking.

Expanding your network of business acquaintances is crucial. A broad network simplifies finding mentors, partners, advisors, employees, and vendors. Plus, you’re your brand, particularly in the startup phase. That means the more people who know you will know about your fledgling company. 

For introverts, socializing can be uncomfortable, as they often thrive in quieter settings rather than at frenzied happy hours or bustling conferences. Consequently, you might be more reluctant to sign up for traditional, in-person conventions. 

Additionally, you may find large networking dinners or crowded industry meetups daunting, preferring the calm of a small book club or a focused workshop. The prospect of initiating conversations at large-scale social gatherings like company parties or public seminars might seem overwhelming, leading you to favor solitary activities like reading industry journals or attending webinars from the comfort of your home. 

While these are understandable behaviors, they aren’t conducive to growing your network. Yet, you don’t have to pretend to be an extrovert to become a networking pro. Just incorporate these best practices into your schedule.

“I’ve learned that a strong network is the ultimate shortcut to everything you want to achieve!” – Melitta Campbell

1. Leverage online platforms

Platforms like LinkedIn are excellent for expanding connections without face-to-face communication. On LinkedIn, you can publish content, comment on others’ articles, search for past colleagues and peers, follow groups, and more. Best of all, you never have to leave the comfort of your desk. 

Depending on your brand and business, you may find other online platforms valuable for getting your corporate and personal name “out there.” Let’s say you sell a product aimed at the consumer market. Creating YouTube videos or hosting a Pinterest page could be valuable. You have to put effort into the process, but you’re in control every step of the way.

2. Engage in one-to-one conversations at events

For many introverts, big events can be overwhelming. Attending smaller events and focusing on one-to-one conversations can be an effective workaround. 

For instance, you might sign up for a private mixer of regional CEOs, business owners, and entrepreneurs. Before you arrive, see if you can get a sense of who else will be at the event. Are there some people you want to make sure you meet? Once there, seek out those people and focus on talking with them individually. 

A good way to do that is to look for more “inactive” parts of the networking space, such as a corner or a small table. This allows you to get to know the other individual without the distractions of others entering the discussion.

3. Prepare talking points before meetings

If attending a busy event is unavoidable, and you tend to get tongue-tied, prepare talking points to ease into conversations. Though you can’t walk around with a list of talking points, you can certainly spend time writing things down beforehand. You can then memorize your bullet points to make launching into the topics you’d like to cover less difficult.

How should you arrange your talking points? There’s no better or best way. Just find something that works for you. Some introverted entrepreneurs like to think about questions they could ask someone they’re meeting for the first time. 

Others prefer to jot down subjects about themselves or their business that they want to include in their discussions. The key is to take an experimentation route.

4. Bring an extroverted colleague

Consider bringing a more extroverted team member to networking events, such as a salesperson, marketing manager, or HR director. Bringing that person with you to social environments takes all the weight off you to network. The other person can do much socializing while you take more of a backseat role.

Be sure that you let your extroverted colleague know this plan ahead of time. You can’t assume that everything will be obvious. Work together to develop a plan. 

For example, you could lay out some reasonable goals, such as how many new people you’d like to meet together at the event. As long as your objectives are achievable, you should be able to reach them in a way that feels comfortable for both of you.

Being an introvert doesn’t preclude you from networking effectively. By embracing online platforms, focusing on one-to-one interactions, preparing conversation points, and partnering with extroverted colleagues, introverts can effectively expand their networks. 

These methods allow introverts to comfortably promote themselves and their businesses, proving that effective networking is achievable for all personality types. 

With these strategies, you can network like a superstar. Put the tips above into action, and you’ll gain all the benefits from knowing a wide range of others inside and outside your industry.

Mike Szczesny is the owner and vice president of EDCO Awards & Specialties, a dedicated supplier of employee recognition products, branded merchandise, and crystal trophies. Szczesny takes pride in EDCO's ability to help companies go the extra mile in expressing gratitude and appreciation to their employees through custom awards. He resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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