Those of you who know me in person know that I’m just not a social butterfly. I think I’m friendly enough…in fact, most people seem to enjoy their interactions with me. But I’m not that person who will make a beeline across the room to strike up a fascinating conversation with you.
Back in my early years (ya know, last year….ha), I was called “shy.” But apparently, nowadays, I’m more what “they” call an “introvert.” An introvert, as compared to an extrovert, prefers to keep to herself. She observes, she absorbs, she stammers when a stranger speaks….well, maybe not that last one. At least, not all introverts.
The problem, if you want to call it that, with being an introvert and an entrepreneur lies in the fact that being an entrepreneur requires you to wear many hats–administrative, creative, sales, etc. And it’s the sales aspect that many introverted entrepreneurs find so difficult. I, myself, have often thought, “If I can’t even have a friendly conversation at dinner with a friend of a friend, how on EARTH am I going to talk to a complete stranger about my business??”
But alas! there are solutions to this situation. Solutions that work with the introverted personality rather than against it. I use them all of the time. In fact, I used a couple of them today at a new business networking event. They aren’t flashy, but they work.
- Bring Your Passion: fortunately, networking events are meant to showcase your business more than your personality. Yes, you are the greatest element to your business. But honestly, if your product sucks it won’t matter how great or outgoing your personality is. Likewise, if your product is amazing, but your butterfly wings are lacking you might also find it more difficult to make a connection. But when you have PASSION–well, there’s magic in that. It shows in your face, it shows in your voice, it shows in your very presence. So always bring your PASSION for your business with you and let that draw others to you!
- Observe and Smile: the whole point of networking meetings is to mingle, right? But if you just aren’t comfortable mingling among the other attendees then don’t force it. Find a good seat where you can observe the action, plant a smile on your face, and just watch. Listen. Get the lay of the land. Nothing says you have to be the life of the party. Just make sure you look friendly and I assure you…the social butterflies in the group WILL find you! And when they do, flash them your beautiful smile, admit to not being great at mingling, and express your enthusiasm for watching everyone in action.
- Fake It ‘Til Ya Make It: most introverts become less so as they get comfortable around the group of people. Faces become familiar to you, your face becomes familiar to them, and the routine no longer leaves you guessing as to what to expect and when. Consistently show up to the meetings, speak passionately when the opportunity arises, observe the others and smile when you make eye contact and eventually you’ll be “one of them.” Until then…FAKE IT. Nobody knows what’s inside your head–ya know, those voices screaming “OH MY GOD, WHY IS EVERYONE LOOKING AT ME?” etc.–so fake it. Practice it until it becomes real.
My last little bit of advice for introverts who need or want to network for business is to really, really observe those who seem to find it easy. Mimic their gestures, their postures, their opening lines…the best way to learn anything is by duplicating what works for others. Give yourself some credit, give yourself some time, and keep showing up!
What do ya’ll think? Any suggestions that’ve worked for you?