As a small business owner, you are the face of your brand. But for many of us who self-identify as “introverts,” this can be uncomfortable or downright scary!
Putting yourself out there may not be your go-to tendency. If you’re anything like me, the thought of walking into a networking event with a room full of strangers is the opposite of a good time.
You might have your elevator pitch down pat (read my latest blog for some tips!), but it’s the actual delivery that gets you feeling queasy. You know that you’re great at having individual, meaningful conversations, and making people feel seen and heard – but it’s the initial connection, the mustering up of confidence, that’s difficult.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone!
Personally, I’ve had my own share of struggling to network as an introvert, both when I worked in the corporate world and when I first launched my business full-time. I’ve always communicated best in written formats, so when it came to networking, words sometimes failed me!
But I’ve since been able to grow my confidence and find my true voice. I’ve learned that introverts hold a quiet power in the world of entrepreneurship, and we can make a huge impact on people’s lives with our businesses. Some of the best personal brands that I know are run by big-hearted, knowledgeable introverts!
Introverts might be quiet and initially reserved, but when we unleash our creativity, it makes a LOUD statement.
So, how can you network successfully as an introvert? Whether we’re talking about a post-COVID in-person event, a virtual networking party, or making purposeful LinkedIn connections, I have three tips to help!
Networking Tip #1: Know Your Strengths – and Lean Into Them
If you’ve ever taken a personality test (Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Disc…), you’ll get a feel for your temperament, personality traits, and tendencies. It’s important to understand and lean into your own strengths. Your entrepreneur superpower is when you are able to understand what makes you great and fully embrace it!
Here’s a personal example: One of the most insightful personality tests, for me, is the Gallup StrengthsFinder quiz. I have gained incredibly useful insights from this test.
My top 5 strengths are Learner, Strategic, Achiever, Responsibility, and Input.
Here’s how these strengths apply to my networking approach:
Learner and Input
I’m a great listener and I am fascinated by others’ stories. At networking events, I lean into this natural curiosity and ask questions to get people talking.
I see the bigger picture and am always looking for ways to maximize my time and energy. While networking, I don’t try to become best friends with everyone. I try to just make a few genuine connections.
I love reaching milestones and goals. My personal success meter depends on measurable results. I can take this tendency into a networking event by challenging myself to connect with a certain number of people or giving out a set number of business cards.
I feel a deep, personal responsibility to do what I say I will do. After making genuine connections, I strive to follow-up with everyone. If I said I was going to set an appointment, check out their LinkedIn profile, or send them a link – I do it.
Networking Tip #2: Aim for Deeper Connections
Let’s be honest: As introverts, we HATE small talk. So let’s skip it! Ask deeper, meaningful questions to show that you truly care about getting to know the person standing in front of you.
As introverts, we are naturally great at making intentional connections and having deep conversations that go beyond the surface. If meeting others at a networking event, ask people questions about the heart of their business, or about their personal values. Such as, “How do you want to feel by the end of 2021?” or “What do you think makes you so good at your job?” or simply “What drives you?” These are examples of questions that will (hopefully!) make people open up.
One of these questions would also make a great LinkedIn message, after some initial pleasantries.
Asking good questions shows that you care, and this fosters a feeling of safety, trust, and rapport between you and the other person.
Networking Tip #3: Celebrate Your Personality Online
Don’t be afraid to share your personality on your website bio or your LinkedIn “About” section! Seriously, it’s OK to be yourself. People want to know what makes you tick and who you are outside of your profession.
There’s a reason why personality tests are often used in the corporate world and in pre-marriage counseling sessions. Your results give people a baseline idea of the kind of personality that you have, which plays directly into your brand identity.
If you love dogs, enjoy witty banter, or are constantly making pop-culture references – write that into your bio. Yesterday’s handshake is today’s social media bio, so make the most of the space you have, and make sure your first impression is a great one. And by “great,” I mean “genuine!”
My fellow introvert, lean into your strengths. You might be soft-spoken, but your voice matters!
Understand and embrace your personality, and bring this into your business and networking endeavors. Being yourself is the best thing you can be, and I know people will love you for it.