It’s an unfortunate and common misconception that all successful business magnates are outgoing, alpha, social forces to be reckoned with. The truth, however, is that the rich and powerful are still a cross section of the rest of the world’s population. As such, there are some that are introverted and feel socially awkward.
So, how did they make it big? All that networking and shoulder-rubbing must be difficult for someone who doesn’t enjoy it, right? Not really. It’s a skill, and as such it can be learned. Enjoying it is a matter of choice. Successful introverts simply learned how to network and chose to enjoy themselves doing it! Wondering how you can do the same thing? Here are a few tips.
Pick Your People
Are the people you’re surrounded by contributing to your creativity or holding it back? Are you spending time with people that prefer to sit around quietly or have idle conversation? Nobody’s suggesting you leave your friends behind, but bad habits can’t be what takes up a majority of your time.
Choose to hang out with upbeat, creative people. Be inspired by what they speak of and maybe do some inspiring yourself. That kind of energy is contagious and could make coming out of one’s shell that little bit easier. Having said that, I understand. Being a legitimate introvert means social settings like this can exhaust you. If you find that starts to happen, readjust your dose and work your way up to spending more time around these people. Don’t forsake your mental health for the sake of your business.
The key to networking successfully is being able to find value in yourself and in others. A great way to do this is by looking through your list of contacts and, just for fun, figuring out who can match each contact up with in terms of needs and services. “Joel’s been looking for a social media expert and I met Fei last week who does just that. Match made in heaven!” It’s also a good idea to do this with your own skills. Look through your contacts and ask yourself who you can be of value to or who can help you out and how?
Challenging your mind to think in different ways and strain to find unlikely matches makes it second nature over time. Pretty soon, you’ll be meeting new faces, hearing their occupation and immediately saving them into categories that either you or others can find value in or provide value to. This is key to becoming a networking pro so practicing this skill in any social setting and at your leisure is time well spent. As always, success is yours if you’re willing to work hard enough to earn it.
Sit Under A Chicken
It’s a joke. Eggs hatch when they’re incubated. So do ideas…
Is it funnier now?
Somewhere nearby there are collectives of inspiring, energetic, forward-thinking, entrepreneurial minds looking to meet others like themselves…or like you! Business incubators and thinktanks are excellent places to be situated in for practicing networking. Since meetings at incubators take longer than a handshake at an event, it’s easier for an introvert to gradually acclimatize to the setting and experiment with adding value.
There’s a lot of anxiety tied to the need to speak more, especially if that need leads you to saying something unnecessary. So, take it slow. Listen, observe, take notes, assess, await a genuine thought if one comes to you and when you’re ready, share it! For those looking to challenge themselves, set a goal for the meeting. “I will speak up five times by the time it’s over.” Or something of the sort. Goals like this can keep you accountable and nudge you away from spending the entire meeting in blissful silence.
Being an introvert is nothing to be ashamed of. You aren’t less than great or doomed for failure. Those doomed for failure are those unwilling to try. There is no such thing as a setback if you are willing to level out the playing field. Being introverted actually means you’ll probably be more insightful when you do speak because you’re more likely to have been listening intently. If anything, you have an advantage. Couple it with these three helpful tips and you’ll be the whole package in no time.
How do you deal with your introversion, social awkwardness or shyness? There are many just like you also looking for tips and inspiration. Let us know how you’re staying sharp below!
And for a great selection of tools to help you grow your business in other ways, download our guide to the Top 10 Free Tools for Entreprenuers.