There are so many reasons why a natural introvert can make a strong business leader, and a great employee – as talented analysts, consultants and strategists, there’s a solid base of valuable skills to build success upon. But when it comes to networking, selling and getting a business out there, they may feel slightly less than confident. Luckily, there are many tendencies of this personality type that can actually be used to powerful effect in a networking setting, such as great listening skills. Here’s how to navigate through when you’re out of your comfort zone:
Pick an Objective
For introverts to feel more comfortable operating at a networking event, it’s better to have set a goal about what you want to get out of it. That way, it prevents any internal self-doubt about why you are there and what the point of the small talk is. So take a moment before attending to map out what you need the event to deliver – and make it specific. It could be to hold a five minute introductory chat with the procurement director of that start-up you’ve seen a good opportunity to work with. Or you could be on the hunt for a particular supplier. Ask for the guestlist and read up beforehand on who’s attending, so if you want to work with that accounts specialist from Cook CPA, you can prepare what you’re going to say beforehand.
Have a Standard Opening Line – and a Pitch
Often it’s the unscripted small talk preceding the proper discussions that can make an introvert feel most uncomfortable – so rehearse some standard opening line formulas so that you don’t find yourself at a loss for words. The smartest move is to immediately ask a question, putting the conversational onus on the other party. Something simple like ‘So, what brings you hear today?’. Then you can get into your comfort zone receive mode rather than having to immediately push out messages. It also provides a opening for someone who may also not be sure what to say themselves. Let their talk about their business guide you. Equally, if you don’t know what you’re going to say about your own business then you’re either in for 2 minutes of very awkward silence or verbal diarrhea when you inevitably get asked about yourself. Work out three or four key points to get across – what does your company do in a nutshell? What are your mission and company values? What is your own role in making this work? What are you seeking at this event? Stick to the script and you’ll never be stuck for an answer.
There’s no point putting all that hard work in if you don’t follow up afterwards. Use social platforms such as LinkedIn to connect afterwards and send each person a personal message including a couple of the facts they mentioned to you. ‘Hello Lucy, it was great to meet you at the Startup Lunch the other day and hear about your work in recruitment. We have a couple of technical roles coming up if you’d want to discuss how we could work together on them.” Keep it short and sweet and let the rest happen naturally. You got this!