Having run networking meetings for quite some time, we often hear people describe better networkers as “born networkers”. That could be true. Some people are blessed with the gift of gab while starting and sustaining a conversation can be a real chore for some. Yet that doesn’t exclude introverts from being good networkers. It just means you may need to take a different path.
Take My Pinnacle Network Founder Steve Dubin. Please. Seriously though, Steve thinks of himself as an introvert. If you have met him, this may surprise you a little. Yet Steve learned how to overcome his shyness in networking situations by using skills he developed as reporter. Namely, asking questions.
When Steve meets people at a networking event, he reverts to a list of questions he has memorized. The questions are a little less cliché than “what’s your business?”. Typically, it’s about the event or something of the sort. Since many people are more comfortable answering a question rather than starting a conversation, guess what? A conversation ensues.
This technique often gives Steve the opportunity to learn more about the people he meets. This in turn makes it easier for him to connect the people he meets with people in his network. And we all know that giving is the key to receiving in networking.
Okay, so maybe you’re not a former reporter. It doesn’t prevent you from creating a list of questions to have for when you go to events. Fortunately, networking is much more about what happens outside networking events. And that’s where introverts can be very successful if you choose to be.
Ask any great networker what the key to networking success is and most will say it’s follow up. Much of follow up today can be done online. So, if you meet somebody at a networking event, be sure to follow up afterwards with a little note via e-mail. Better yet, check out their LinkedIn profile and connect.
If this contact is somebody you want to get to know better, set up a one-on-one. If you’re not sure, perhaps you start a virtual dialogue that includes some additional questions. Like who in your network would they like to meet? Conversely, you could ask if they know anybody in an area that’s of interest to your business.
This is but one way for introverts to break out of their shell and get into the networking game. Check out our ebook, 15 Keep-it-Simple Tips for B2B Networkers, for more pointers.