Networking is crucial for entrepreneurship but may not come easy for introverted founders. Although many extroverts make great founders, it is a misconception that one must have an extrovert personality to become an entrepreneur or leader. For example, media mogul, Oprah, classifies herself as a true introvert but has managed to become a world-renowned entrepreneur. To all the introvert entrepreneurs who may struggle, here is how to amp up your social networking skills.
Gather Talking Points Beforehand
As an introvert, personal space and alone time are high on the list of priorities, while mingling with a crowd of people most likely doesn’t make the list at all. However, business purposes might call the introvert out of their comfort zone and into a brunch meeting or happy hour networking event where social mingling is expected. Although you may be content sitting in silence, chances are the individuals around you would like to indulge in conversation. Networking is the goal, after all.
Gathering some talking points beforehand can help you start or stir the conversation. If possible, try to research those who might be in attendance and collect some intel via professional sites like LinkedIn. If all else fails, hit up their social media accounts to compile a list of talking points.
Be Aware of Your Body Language
Although you know you are an introvert, others may see it as being aloof or standoffish. In the world of networking, people need to like you. No matter how many times the thought of getting an Uber enters your mind, try to maintain an open and inviting presence. Smile and unfold your arms. Your body language speaks before your words. Something as subtle as the direction your feet are turned can signal negative body language. If a person’s feet are facing away towards an exit — that’s likely the direction they want to go.
Find Others With Similar Interests
Forced conversation can be painful for just about anyone, and introverts are no different. A HuffPost article explains why small talk can be a draining task for introvert entrepreneurs who crave a deeper, more meaningful conversation. To smooth over the awkwardness, it may be helpful to find attendees who have similar interests. For example, if you’re a blogger, find events that cater to your blogging niche to ensure like-minded entrepreneurs are around.
Bring a Friend
No, not your best friend — who isn’t involved in any aspect of your business. Bring your co-founder or another member of your team for moral support. It’s even more beneficial if your plus one likes to talk and has a knack for striking up a conversation with strangers.