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6 Networking Tips for the Introverted and Exhausted

As a small business owner, you know you need to network. The benefits of making connections that can lead to business growth are irreplaceable.

While networking comes easily to some, it is not so easy for others. Whether it is because we are overworked, we are exhausted or are on the introverted side of the Meyers-Briggs scale, the idea of a networking event can be enough to want to toss the whole “business owner” thing out the window.

Even for the most extroverted of people, a room full of strangers can be intimidating. And the pandemic has made this even harder. Connection over technology can just be exhausting. So how can you lean into networking when you just want to walk (or run) away from your screen?

Rethink your approach: Networking is about building meaningful relationships, not collecting business cards. Focus on the quality of contacts, not the quantity. Seek to learn about other people by asking questions and connect by bringing your own unique knowledge to the conversation. Find opportunities to speak more deeply, one-on-one, with people who interest you.

Find the right event: Not every event is worth your time. Figure out what you want to get out of your networking and expand your definition to include opportunities that aren’t so overwhelming.

Practice: Before you go to any networking event, think about what you want people to remember about your business. Create an elevator pitch and come ready to talk about a few key things that you are truly passionate about.

Get social: A lot of networking can take place online on social media and via email. This is a great way to connect with people you would never otherwise meet and show off your own expertise. Plus, during a pandemic, this is probably preferable.

Make it personal: Before any networking event, lunch or call, take the time to learn about your hosts or key people. If you can, review an attendee list and make note of those who might be a good resource. When all else fails, brush up on some conversation starters so you aren’t left talking about the weather — again.

Be authentic: Talking about what you love is easier and more memorable than remembering how many vendors you have anyway. Bring your authentic, best self to networking events. You should act confident and be personable, but do not act like someone you are not. Remember, you are there to connect, and your relationships should start from a place of authenticity.

A shift in perspective and some pre-event preparation can make networking less of a chore, especially for when we prefer a night in to a night of professional socialization. And the right group and the right approach can even turn networking into something you look forward to.