You might think that an introvert is a person who is shy, but that’s not always true. I’m an introvert and I actually enjoy doing presentations and networking.
Yes, I’m a bit weird.
Lately I’ve been surprised by the people who’ve told me they are introverts. Some appear to have total confidence when delivering presentations, but will admit they can only do it if they are well prepared and talking about a subject they know well. Often us introverts have learned techniques to enable us to thrive in places where you’d expect to find only extroverts.
According to The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment, introverts are motivated internally, getting their energy from within themselves rather than from being in a crowd. We are thinkers, brainstormers and problem solvers. We often prefer one-to-one conversation over group meetings. And we also tend to need quiet time to think and reflect.
These traits can make it difficult for us to meet people, make connections and network. All of these are important when building a business because relationships are essential for getting customers, making sales, getting to know with people who can connect you with new customers, plus finding the best experts and suppliers.
So here are a few things you can do to meet more people if you’re an introvert:
- Set yourself a goal
Set a goal to meet one new person each day. It may be online, via a social networking site, or it can be when you’re out and about. Keep business cards with you, get into a conversation and learn more about the person you’re speaking to. This one-to-0ne approach is less daunting than tackling a group of people all at once. The more people you know, the more opportunities you’re exposed to. Every new connection adds up.
- Build connections
As you begin meeting people, start asking those you connect with who they know. You can turn five connections into twenty-five if each person you meet introduces you to five new people. Decide the kind of people you need to meet so you’re ready with a question like “Do you know anyone who needs a proofreader?”
- Set time aside to recharge and refresh
This is particularly important if you’re taking time to get out and meet new people. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and burned out when you neglect the downtime you need as an introvert.
Let’s face it, if you’ve got small children you’re probably pretty tired even before you start work.
- Get outside your comfort zone (just a bit)
I like to challenge myself to do things that make me a little nervous. It gives me a real sense of achievement when I succeed and boosts my motivation for tackling the next challenge. But there’s no need to go so far outside your comfort zone that you give yourself a panic attack! (Yes, I actually did this once. It wasn’t pretty.)
- Network both online and offline
I’ve found social media incredibly useful for breaking the ice before I meet someone in person. If there’s someone I particularly want to talk to at an event, I exchange a few tweets on Twitter with them first. That means I don’t have to introduce myself to them as a complete stranger when we meet, instead I’m ‘Helen from Twitter’. If it’s an event where we are all wearing name badges, they will often recognise me before I even speak. Having a good clear picture of yourself on your Twitter profile is very helpful here, too.
Follow up afterwards too, so you keep building that relationship for the next time you meet.
- Don’t believe what they say
The entrepreneurs we read about and see on TV are usually highly extrovert characters that don’t suffer fools gladly. As a thoughtful introvert it’s easy to feel that you’re not cut out for a life in business. You may also still be affected by things people said about you in the past, for example my teachers regularly told me that I wasn’t very confident. Actually, I was quite confident in my own abilities and opinions, I just didn’t feel comfortable as the centre of attention in a noisy classroom. But being told I lacked confidence eventually did knock my confidence.
It takes all kinds of people to make the world go around. You have every bit as much talent as the extroverts out there and absolutely can succeed in business if you want to.
Introverts have a spectacular ability to brainstorm, problem solve, innovate and build a business. Yet the ability to meet new people and build relationships can be a challenge. Appeal to your ability to connect with people one-to-one and start meeting more people in a way that feels right for you. There’s no need to force yourself into a public speaking situation or into a large-scale networking group. Work to your strengths, challenge yourself a little and don’t forget to take some time out to recuperate.
Have you taken a Myers Briggs Assessment? I’m an INTJ, how about you? Leave me a comment and tell me…