Question: What is one way naturally shy or introverted entrepreneurs can step up their networking game?
Meet With People One-on-One
"Networking doesn't have to happen at a noisy cocktail party. A one-on-one cup of coffee, phone call or Skype can work even better. As natural listeners and passionate people, introverts flourish in these situations. To set up such a meeting, all it takes is drafting a short note, mentioning a point of connection and asking for a few minutes. Personal introductions can be a big help."
Take Public Speaking Classes
"Let's assume after some trying it out you started to feel more comfortable with one-on-one networking. What if you had to do it with others in your presence? Start taking public speaking classes in order to train yourself. It will be well worth it."
Attend Events During "Introverts Hour"
"As someone who hosts monthly networking events for 400+ people, I use the term "Introverts Hour" because I tend to find that the best time for introverts to come to an event is during the first hour, when the crowd is less dense and people are actively seeking out connections and new interactions. It's easier to engage without feeling that your energy is being overly depleted during that time."
Ask a Friend for an Introduction
"One great way to overcome shyness is to ask someone you already know to introduce you to someone you should know. Not only does this ease the introduction process, your friend can introduce you to qualified prospects."
"The hardest step is just showing up. Create an events calendar for yourself and go to things! I tell people to create games for themselves. See if you can meet five new people at an event. At future events, increase your five person goal to 10. When you turn it into a game, it becomes fun. Pro tip: You could meet 100 people at an event, but if you don't follow up, it would be as if you didn't go at all."
Play to Your Strengths
"I would suggest going to conferences and doing what I have coined as turning hashtags to handshakes. Start the relationship in the digital space and build the anticipation of someone wanting to meet you when you get there. You have already warned up the relationship online so you can build with those you want to in-person."
Get in a Mastermind Group
"A great way to start networking is getting into a consistent mastermind group. Being able to build up a relationship with a core group of people can help introverts get out of their shell. Plus, it's a perfect scenario for networking, since you'll be in a group of people who have their own networks. It makes it much easier to get an introduction and the mutual friend can help with small talk."
Have an Opening Question
"At the event, come prepared with a handful of relevant questions. For instance, "What brings you out to the event today?" or "If there was one thing you'd like to learn, what would it be?" Your curiosity will keep a conversation going and keep the other person engaged. Inevitably, those same questions will get asked of you, so be sure to have thoughtful answers ready."
Put Yourself in a Situation Where You Can Succeed
"Walking into a large room full of strangers is overwhelming for introverts, so play to your strengths. Smaller, quieter rooms with two to four people are where introverts feel more comfortable. Introverted entrepreneurs are more comfortable in a more controlled environment. So set meetings, coffee or drinks in that type of setting and you will excel!"
"I don't think there is really a more natural way besides practicing and doing it enough to get more comfortable with it. It’s always tough walking into a large crowd by yourself. Always remember there are others doing it too. You need to start somewhere!"