If you’ve been following me for a while, you might be surprised to learn that I’m an introvert.
I never shy away from a stage or microphone, I jump at any opportunity to meet new people, and I love to talk. Friends and family who follow my Instagram will often comment on my busy lifestyle in New York — I like to go out and mix it up!
With my outgoing personality, I’ve often been mistaken for an extrovert — someone who gains energy from being around others. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I am an introvert — someone who replenishes by being alone.
After a full day of seeing clients, or after teaching a workshop, I need some serious downtime! And if I don’t refuel the tank, I will crash and burn.
And to be honest, if I’ve stretched myself too thin and my fuel gauge is low, it can be difficult to show up for business development — especially networking!
How many times have you bought a ticket to a networking event or conference then bailed at the last minute because you just couldn’t bear the thought of shaking hands and sharing your elevator pitch?
But here’s what I’ve learned: Networking doesn’t have to look like loud, extroverted, desperate mingling.
In fact, to attract ideal clients, there’s only one way to be effective — by being yourself, in whatever form that happens to be.
So without further adieu, I’d like to share my top three tips for networking while being at peak introvert!
1. Choose non-networking events.
Is there anything more terrible than a “networking event?!” For us introverts, especially those on the shy or sensitive side, being in a room where the expectation is to mix and mingle feels forced and flat. Instead, choose an educational event with an interesting topic — when you’re learning alongside others, there’s lots to talk about! With the common ground of what you just learned, it’s much easier to make connections and immediately have something of substance on which to connect.
2. Get a networking buddy.
If you don’t like networking, you’re not alone — so find another networking hater and team up! A couple nice things happen when you have a networking wing-person at your side. First, if one of you is lower-energy, the other can pick up the slack. Second, because it’s sometimes easier and more comfortable to talk about how great someone else is, you two can adopt introducing one another to a group of networkers. This is a fun and engaging way to break the ice and take the pressure off.
3. Wear a conversation piece.
I’m cringing as I write this last one! I’m having horrible flashbacks of getting old-school sales advice about “dressing the part,” having the “right” handshake, and delivering the “perfect” 15-second elevator pitch. But stay with me here…
When I’m feeling particularly tired or shy, rather than ditching the networking opportunity altogether, I’ll instead put on one of my snazziest suits and just show up. Think pink, print, power suit!
When I wear something notable, something I feel powerful in, I’ve learned that people will engage me. I don’t have to do the heavy lifting of walking up to strangers and introducing myself — they’ll come to me!
This exact thing happened last year while attending the Create & Cultivate event in NYC. I woke up feeling like I would rather stay in bed, but because I had invested in the ticket, I dragged myself to the event — in my floral suit.
Standing in the breakfast line, I heard, “I love your suit!”
Come to find out, this networking angel was Tamera Darden, creative director of Darden Creative, a content creation agency for beauty, wellness and lifestyle brands and professionals — and badass business truth-teller.
The suit worked again! So while I don’t want you to subscribe to all the old school sales advice, I can personally vouch for wearing something memorable!
And as a little bonus for you, I invite you to check out my interview with Tamera on her awesome podcast, Real Talk With Tamera. If you like business advice given to you straight, Tamera has you covered.
You can listen on Apple or wherever you get your podcasts!