Are you an introverted business owner who doesn’t know where to begin when it comes to networking? If so, you need a plan. Start by focusing on these five techniques commonly used by top networkers.
1. Be Community-Minded
It’s easier to network or get to know new people when you’re united for a common purpose or cause. Top networkers follow their personal interests to find volunteer opportunities, sports, and service organizations to join, expanding their circle of acquaintances.
Look for opportunities to give back to your community in a group setting. Volunteer as a board or committee member, or at your child’s favorite activity or school event. Focusing on completing a task or fulfilling a mission can help you ease into conversations when small-talk isn’t your strong suit.
2. Be a Listener
Don’t like to talk a lot? Don’t worry. The best networkers aren’t always gregarious, outgoing people. Instead, they ask questions, and then simply listen.
People love to talk about themselves, and this is how you’ll learn about an individual’s passions, skills, and other contacts. And pay attention – you never know who can help you down the road.
Start by approaching an individual who appears to be on their own. Encourage others to talk by asking open ended questions such as, “So why were you interested in coming to this event/meeting?” Or, “How did you get involved in this cause/organization?”
3. Keep Track of Who’s Who
Cultivating a network as a useful business resource requires keeping track of who’s who, as well as how to contact them.
Whether you track your contact list on your iPhone, your LinkedIn account, or a favorite app, the best networkers follow a systematic approach to organizing contact lists so individual information is easy to find when needed. Make a note of where/when you met, any pertinent details of conversations, and other acquaintances you may have in common. This can make it easier to find the individual in your list when you’re ready to connect again in the future.
4. Connect Others
Connecting with others isn’t always about who can do something for you right now. The most successful networkers look for opportunities to connect others to their mutual benefit. And then those individuals are more likely to help you when you’re looking for a favor down the road.
5. Network with a Purpose
When you’re an introverted business owner or entrepreneur, it may help to remind yourself of why you’re reaching out to people at an event or meeting. Maybe you want to get local exposure for your business, or get recommendations for professional services such as a new attorney or accountant.
Whether you’re attending a community event, or checking out a local business meetup, focus on getting to know just one personal at a time. Even if you make just three meaningful connections at each meeting, you’re expanding your network steadily and purposefully.