Latest posts by Mike Li (see all)
- 5 Ways Introverts Can Start Networking To Open Up More Opportunities - February 19, 2018
Introvert Networking – Doesn’t it sound oxymoron? Aren’t introverts supposed to keep to themselves? Aren’t introverts usually uncomfortable around people?
I used to answer a resounding “YES” to all the questions above. Over the last few months, I’ve managed to bust those beliefs I had and have a resounding “NO” to all those questions.
I have been attending networking events for the past 8 years but have hardly gained any new connections. But in the past 8 months, I’ve changed my strategy and made many more invaluable connections, connections who had provided me with countless opportunities than the 8 years prior.
Let’s face it. Nobody in the world succeeds alone. We all need someone to support us in our quest to our goals. Even the best golf player needs a caddy and a coach. The CEO of any company would be nothing without his lieutenants.
Want to get ahead and open up more opportunities? Get out there and make genuine connections!
Looking for a job and need to tap into the hidden jobs market? Go expand your network.
Want to set up your own business but you need business partners or mentors? Network with like-minded people.
“But I am an introvert and uncomfortable around people. How do I do it?”
Here are 5 ways to get you started:
1. Take action and attend an event that interests you.
I classify an event where many people come together, be it workshops, talks, seminars or any sort of gathering as a networking event. That is where I can meet new people.
What better way to do it with like-minded people at an event where people of the interests come together? The first step out is always to turn up!
2. Find someone to speak to.
They say the first step is the hardest. I beg to differ when it comes to networking for introverts. Turning up is easy. Finding someone to engage with is the toughest part.
Most often, the partner we engage with most is our mobile phone. When the session goes for a break, we will be fiddling on our phones in a corner so as not to appear awkward. Most times, we don’t even have anything on our phone other than scrolling through social media. Our mobile phones instantly became our comfort item.
For a change, look for someone who is appearing just as awkward and alone. Every human being in a social setting craves attention, even introverts. Some crave attention because they don’t want to appear awkward and “uncool”. Others crave attention because they want to feel engaged and really make more friends but don’t really know how. Be the bigger person and approach them.
Remember how you’d always feel when someone approaches you in an event and you felt like the person was an angel sent from heaven? Do that to others and be their angel. They will really appreciate you.
3. What should I talk about? How should I start a conversation?
What would be an appropriate “pick-up line”? Would it sound too “cheesy”? No, you’re not picking up anyone from a bar. There is no need to go with cheeky pick-up lines to make an impression unless you’re there for a social networking event for singles that is.
Some of the opening lines I use most often are questions to elicit a response. You’ll be amazed at the power of questions, especially open-ended questions. Open questions typically start with “Why”, “What” and “How”.
Firstly, open-ended questions allow the other party to keep speaking. As introverts, we are always happy to allow others to keep speaking while we sit back and listen.
Secondly, you make the other party speak about themselves. Everybody loves talking about themselves and sharing their stories. Even introverts. They just need their platform and someone they can connect with.
Some of the questions I ask are:
- What brings you here?
- Why are you interested in (insert subject of the event)?
- How did you find the speaker/content (of the event)?
- How did you find out about this event?
Look for common themes and similarities. That is how conversations flow and why you feel the connection. We all like others who are similar to us. Think about the closest friends we mix with. We hang out with them because we are similar in so many ways.
The breaks will be over even before anyone finishes answering those questions and both of you would have felt fully engaged.
4. Communicate your value proposition and what value you can add to others.
When we meet new people, many times, our natural instinct would be to judge and see what this person does and what value he/she can bring to us. We need to move away from that kind of mindset.
Everyone has an area of expertise and something they can offer. So do we. We need to focus on what value we can bring others. We need to learn to give instead of receive.
“When we give, we receive more”.
How? – You may ask. When you start giving, people know you for the value you can give. When there are opportunities to collaborate or if they know of business opportunities requiring your expertise, you’ll be sure that you’re the first one that this particular individual think of.
You can do the same for others as well. Find out how you can connect mutually beneficial partnerships with the people you meet. What do you receive? The ultimate satisfaction that you make a mutual partnership come together and flourish! And the reputation for doing so. All these are the intangible benefits that help build your personal brand.
Most importantly, you need to build your value proposition and find out how you can make yourself stand out. It can be your life’s mission, the way you go about doing your work, your tagline, your story or anything unique about you.
But why unique?
Aren’t the people we remember best the ones who were most unique?
“You can either be unique in your field or the best there is. I strive to be both.”
5. Follow up on your promises and keep your network active.
Don’t we all hate the person who said will follow up with us but did not?
Let’ strive not to be that person. It hurts your personal brand. When others hear about your bad habits, they will avoid you like the plague. You’ll lose credibility and trust. It takes a long time to build your credibility and others’ trust for you, but one episode to destroy it all. Avoid it at all costs. Don’t make promises you don’t intend to keep.
Keep your network active so that you’re always fresh on their minds. Keep giving. Don’t know what to give? Share articles you’ve read that may interest others. Give your most important asset – TIME – to catch up and see how you can serve and support others in their pursuit of their goals.
Continue to connect on social media. Facebook and LinkedIn are the best ways to connect. Leverage them to find out about their daily lives and professional thoughts. These become the best conversation starters.
Introvert Networking is not a myth. If anything, it is a limiting belief we introverts have imposed upon ourselves.
To succeed, we’ll always need the support of others along the way. And for that to happen, it is not about what you know, it is always who you know and who knows you, and most importantly, who trusts you.
Mike is an introvert that loves networking and meeting new people, connecting people to opportunities. He is passionate about helping others find their life’s purpose. He strongly believes in giving in abundance to feel fulfilled in life.
Mike is also strongly passionate about men’s styling. He aspires to inspire men to dress well and feel confident about themselves.
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