It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Ethan Robinson – Enjoy!
Networking is a challenge for shy people. If only they possessed that self-confidence to impress a crowd or charm people at “hello.” Whether you call yourself “shy,” “introverted,” or merely “quiet,” it is still possible for you to master the art of networking. Networking is not based on being outgoing: it’s about building sincere relationships based on trust, sincerity, and generosity. If you’re struggling to meet new people, here’s a few things you could try to improve your network.
1. Don’t sweat the meet and greet
If there’s someone you want to meet for the first time, try to find a common connection and request an introduction. If you’re in a networking event, approach the host or an event organizer to help you with the introduction. Getting introduced will make it easier for you to make a new contact than having to approach someone from out of the blue. Can’t find anyone to introduce you? Take a few deep breaths and take a leap of faith. It’s always better to try than miss that chance altogether.
2. Write down your questions
It’s a two-way street so you can’t let the other person carry the conversation for you. If you’re not confident about your spontaneity, then try writing down a few questions like:
“What does your typical day look like?”
“What got you into this career path?”
“What hobbies are you into?”
“What do you wish you had more time to do?”
Cliché, overused conversation starters may seem like a drag. But they can be a good way to start a conversation.
3. Your listening skills are your assets
Introverts are often empathic listeners. Being a better listener than most people may not make you stand out in the crowd. But it does leave strong, lasting impressions on people once you engage them in a conversation. Listening attentively and asking a few thoughtful questions can help fast-track your way into a meaningful relationship.
4. Throw in some compliments
From small compliments to sheer flattery, entrepreneurs are always keen to hear something good about themselves. Just be sure to be earnest about your compliments and not to dish out too many flatteries in a conversation. Think about it and if you don’t feel like saying it, don’t.
5. Don’t give unsolicited advice
You can talk about many things but avoid unsolicited advice as much as possible. Giving unsolicited advice like:
“You shouldn’t work too much”
“You should be on TV”
“If I were you, I would…”
This kind of advice is often easier said than done. You’re just starting a relationship, you don’t need to be on their board of directors just yet.
6. Tag a buddy along
A huge business networking event or even a small dinner can be less intimidating if you have a buddy. That way, you’ll have someone to sit with or introduce you to others. If you have to go alone, reach out and make at least one solid connection. It’s always much easier to have a partner than to be lost in a crowd of complete strangers.
7. Remember you’re not the only “shy” guy or girl in the conference
You are more than likely not the only introvert at your table. The guy next to you or the girl from across the table may just be as nervous. Instead of sitting around being scared to death, go ahead and start the conversation. You may be ignored or it may not end up as planned, but it might also lead to a great conversation you would otherwise miss if you remained silent.
If none of these tips has encouraged you to open up to other people, you might want to see a professional business coach or attend a marketing lecture. When you have someone to discuss and explain your specific business challenges, you will find them much easier to overcome with new solutions.
Ethan Robinson is an Australia-based digital marketer who splits his time between Sydney and New York. He currently leads the digital marketing team for NY-based The Small Business Expo, US’ largest business trade show.