5 Networking Tips for Introverts

1. Mindset Shift – Networking is about building relationships not business. People do business with people they like and trust. The goal is to be liked so you can have an opportunity to build trust (i.e.- over coffee after the event). Eliminating the added pressure to perform will surprisingly lead to more successful networking.

How do you achieve the mindset shift? For starters, we’ve all heard that you are the sum of the five people you hang out with most. Barriers and challenges we face don’t need to be faced with alone. Surround yourself around people that build you up and mutually exchange in positive affirmations with each other. Hal Elrod’s, “Miracle Morning” is a great way to prime your mind for positive thinking. Many times it’s the worry that builds up inside of us that prevents us from action. Yet, how many times has your greatest happiness come from a result of doing something outside your comfort zone. Intentionally select people to help raise your desired value. Once, you see yourself with 100% confidence in who you are and what you have to value, you will flip the switch from mediocre to exemplarily.

2. Influencers – Seek out master communicators! It’s not about what you know but who you know. Prior to networking do your homework! Acquire a list of attendees and email them in advance. Reach out to the host and key players to help introduce you to who you want to meet. Influencers want to help you because it makes them look good and boost their social value when they introduce new people to their contacts.

3. Non Verbals – Communication is 93% non verbal. Attract other networkers to YOU! Wear communication triggers like accessories, colors, and most importantly a smile. For example, when my confidence is not on cloud nine prior to a networking event I throw on my pink dress shirt! Friends of mine, wear bow ties, rotary pins, and items with a story. People love to compliment each other and something that stands out is an easy way for someone to start a conversation with you.
The non-verbals include physiology: posture (leaning forward), gestures (when you’re talking), eye contact (critical in building rapport), and your attire (comfortable to your counterparts). They also include your tone of voice such as: speed, volume, and pitch. Interestingly enough, I’ve learned that the position of your feet is literally the foundation of your non-verbals. If your feet are pointed square onto the person you’re engaged with it signals the rest of your body to be locked in on that person. Feet that are pointed away or to the side channel your focus and energy away from the person you are trying to build rapport with.
4. The Water Cooler – Anxiety and a crowded room can be dreadful for an introvert. You’ve worked hard to boost your confidence, did your homework, and dressed to impress but as soon as you walk into the lions den you freeze. It’s okay. Head to the beverage or refreshment tables. As MTV cribs coined, this is where “the magic happens!” There’s a reason millions meet over coffee, happy hour, and lunch. It’s because conversations and trust happen over food and drink.
Once you get to the “water cooler,” what do you say? It’s simple. Ask the person their name. If they have a name tag on, even better, ask the last name, origin, and/or background to their name. For example, my last name is Silveria. You could ask me, “Hi there. What’s your name?” I’m Freddie. “nice to meet you Freddie, what’s your last name?” Silveria. “Oh that’s nice, is that Spanish or Mexican?” It’s actually Portuguese. The conversation can easily start by asking someone their name. “A person’s name, is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language,” Dale Carnegie. I’ve helped many people start and develop a lasting conversation with the Dale Carnegie conversation model. Everything starts with a person’s name.
5. Follow Up – Networking is 50% first impressions and 50% follow up. You developed rapport and scheduled to talk again. Often, you didn’t close but created a potential customer. Now, make it happen rockstar! Immediately, write down keywords and plans for action on the business card they gave you. After the event, email them within 24 hours. Go above and beyond, publicly thank them on social media.
The follow up email. What do you say? Many times we have anxiety over trying to say the right thing. The golden rule I’ve lived by is “If you want to be a good conversationalist, be a good listener. To be interesting, be interested” by Dale Carnegie. After you met in person, you jotted down a few keywords on their business card. The follow up email is than set up for you. Every email follows this same formula: appreciate, memorable, and action. A simple three to five sentence email would thank and appreciate the person. Then, the body would include how sincerely interested in the other person you were. They shared points that you personally connect with or remind them of something memorable they shared with you. Finally, every email should be brief and have a call to action.
The goal of networking is to give a positive first impression. We want to be memorable. People value and pay more for the way you make them feel. The best networking advice is to go into networking with enthusiasm and sincere care to want to be interested in others. We all naturally want to feel loved. At a networking event, that love is in the form of affirmations, congratulations on successes shared, and undivided attention through eye contact. The greatest networking tip when all else fails is to smile.
I’m in the business of building people up. Founder of Freddie Speaks, I facilitate “How to Networking” trainings and have a four week course that gives introverts the tools to overcome the stress of networking. In 2013, he was named “Salesman of the Year” for PepsiCo CVN Division. He facilitates soft skill trainings at colleges across the country for Performance Consulting International and is a Dale Carnegie Effective Communications & Human Relations student. He also holds a Bachelors in Communication from Saint Mary’s College. Connect with him at tweetfreddie.com or inquire at freddiesilveria@gmail.com

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