Networking for Introverts

Yep, all those personality tests peg me as an introvert and they are spot on.  You may not think so if you see me at work because:

  • I can read stories a room full of kids with costumes, props and multiple voices.
  • I teach sewing classes to kids and adults.
  • I make presentations to parents, staff and at the state library conference.

But put me in a situation where I have to make small talk and I immediately become tongue-tied.

Learning how to “work a room” takes skill and practice.   It’s one area I have to constantly work at.  It definitely puts me outside my comfort zone, but it does get easier with practice.  I’m heading to Quiltcon East in Savannah later this week.  I am going solo, but plan to meet up with several of my online quilting biz friends at the event.  I’m really looking forward to actually meeting Elaine Perez from Summercrafter in person for the first time. We’ve worked together on her patterns over the past year, but our contact has been limited to phone and email.

Here are some tips to help fellow introverts “work a room” and develop those connections you need to expand your small business.

  • Wear an outfit that you love (if you know you look good, it helps boost your confidence)
  • Have a 30 second “elevator speech” ready
  • Have plenty of business cards in your pocket
  • Ask follow-up questions to learn more about the other person (Ex. What makes your hometown special?  What drew you to that line of work?)
  • Have 1-2 personal stories that you feel comfortable sharing (kids, dog, vacation, unusual hobbies, etc.
  • Discuss sports, weather, upcoming holiday season, biz trends, but stay away from controversial topics.
  • If you’ve met the person previously, follow-up on something discussed the last time you met (vacation, kids, pets, new product coming to market) or comment on their Instagram feed.

Whatever you do, don’t stay in the corner hidden away or talking with the same person the entire evening (unless it’s a business deal you are negotiating)  the point of a networking event is for you to meet as many people as possible. comfort-zone-quote