Networking for introverts can be as painful as pulling teeth and as entertaining as watching the grass grow on a Tuesday afternoon in August. However, there are times as an entrepreneur that you may find yourself in a networking meeting or event rubbing elbows with people trying to collect leads so your business will grow. The purpose of this blog post is to give you three ways to not only survive a networking event, but actually enjoy them a little without feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and disgusted when you leave.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Typically, introverts are very analytical and we over prepare for most anything we do anyway. So the preparation part shouldn’t be too difficult here. Yet, this may not be the preparation you’re thinking about. The preparation I’m talking about here is how to prepare your body (physically and mentally) for the event. And in order to prepare yourself, you’ll need plenty of rest before the event. In other words, don’t work a ten-hour day then jump over to a networking event. You’ll be tired and you’ll feel drained before you even begin.
You see, social gatherings can drain an introvert like a marathon drains a marathon runner. Not only does the event drain you mentally, but it’ll rip all energy and joy from your life as well. So if you know that going into the event, then it would behoove you to get plenty of rest. It’s okay to take a nap in the middle of the day or crawl into your bed for a few hours before the event. That way, when you get there you’ll be bright eyed and bushy tailed. I can’t stress this enough. DO NOT SHOW UP WHEN YOU’RE ALREADY TIRED. You’ll regret it. (Trust me on this).
Be An Online Stalker
Yes, you read that sub-head correctly. Be an online stalker. (No, not the creepy stalker you see on late night B-movies). But if you’re going to an event, then you should look up who is going to be there. Who’s hosting the event? What charities do they support? What type of things do they comment on in social media? What do their blogs look like and so on? That way, when you get there, you’ll already feel like you know some of the people there and you won’t feel like a total stranger.
Personally, I don’t like going to events where I don’t know anyone. It’s one of the reasons I learned direct-response marketing. So that way I don’t rely on cold calling or networking. However, there are times when networking is a necessary evil. So to make things easier on myself, I simply check out who is going to be there, then read a little about them. That way, when I get there I have a plan and an exit strategy.
Have an Escape Plan
I know the networking meeting may last three hours, but that doesn’t mean you have to. Having an escape plan before you arrive allows you to know exactly what time you’re leaving so you know exactly how long you’ll be there. When it comes to networking or social functions of any kind, I’m usually good for the first 75 minutes. After that, I’m toast. I’m ready to go and I’m easily irritated. And chances are, if you’re reading this, then you may feel the same way too. A word of caution though. Don’t leave until you get the desired outcome from the event.
If you took the time to attend a networking event, then something tells me you didn’t do it for fun. You had a desired outcome for going. What was it? Collect leads? Pass your card to 100 people? It doesn’t matter, whatever it was just don’t leave until you accomplish it. Otherwise the entire evening will end up being a bust. And when it comes time to leave, don’t get dramatic about it. Simply tell whoever you’re talking to at the time you have another appointment this evening and you look forward to meeting them again soon. (Keep in mind, your other appointment could simply be going home and reading a book. Nobody has to know what the appointment is about).
Attending networking meetings can be challenging at times. Personally, I often avoid them like the plague. However, when I go I follow the outline I gave you. At least that way I know how long I’m going to be there, I know a little about who’s already there and I have an escape plan. Good times fuzzy bunnies!
Until next time,
P.S. And, if you’ve made the decision to attend a networking meeting, then at least show up with a positive attitude. You’ve already decided to go. There is no use dreading it.