I’m an introvert, and I’ve blogged about how to network as an introvert. Introvert does not mean you don’t like people or that you’re shy. For me, it’s that it takes energy from me to be with people, even when it’s very interesting and amazing ones, and I recharge best alone. I’ve seen extroverts in action, and they normally gets energy from people, and get drained if they’re left alone for to long.
Networking is often a bit harder for introverts, because we don’t get the same energy boost as extroverts do. After six months of networking here in Silicon Valley I have three tips for how to network as an introvert:
1: Focus on individuals, not the mass.
This was the key for me. I don’t like groups, and thinking that “I’m going to network with all the X at Y event” left me cold. When I changed that to thinking “at Y event, I’m sure I’ll meet at least one very interesting person” it got much easier. At the event I’ll focus on the person I’m talking to, and try to connect and see what’s interesting with them. Getting to talk to people here is easy, just smile, look around and say “Hi, – I’m Linda… ” when getting eye contact.
2: Build relationships, not transactions
When focusing on individuals it’s also easier to start building relationships, not only ‘transactional encounters’. Your goal at an event shouldn’t be to give out as many business cards as possible, and you shouldn’t filter the people you talk to by quickly closing off talks with people you think don’t have business value for you. Your goal should be to build relationship, to connect with real people, and to see how you might help them. Joining different networks will make it easier to meet people again, and if you meet someone you’d like to know better – ask them to meet for a coffee.
3: Chose your events carefully
I could go to several events, every night. For me, one or two a week is enough. It gives me time to do some research up-front about the event, speakers and attendees. If I go to more, I’ll get drained of energy, and a low-energy introvert at an event is not very useful. When picking events, look for the following:
- Sector: is this in my sector?
- Audience: is the audience at my stage, or at a stage where it’s interesting for me to meet them? Is it other founders, people from the industry, young, old, new, experienced, locals or foreigners?
- Speaker: is the speaker an expert on the topic? An influencer? Will I learn from this, or just get confirmation about stuff I already know?
- Organizer: Is the organizer experienced in these kind of events? Are they leading in their field?
By following these tips I’v gone from dreading networking to really enjoying it!
I’ve met lots of very interesting people, some who I’ll most likely never meet again, and others that I hope to build long-lasting relationships with. You should of course follow-up on your event networking after, ideally more than just an LinkedIn invitation.