16 Points to Network Effectively As An Introvert (or An Empath)

It can be uncomfortable (or even terrifying!) to go out and network if you are an introvert. Here are suggestions to help you network with less stress, and which I (honestly) developed for myself because I’m actually both an empathy and an introvert by nature.

Remember that the real point of networking and marketing is not who you know but who knows you.

Networking can happen in personal, local events or it can happen in a virtual environment through social media and chat forums. While the following points were originally written to support in-person networking, many of them (if not all) also apply to the virtual networking scenario. Simply exchange the context in your mind so that it applies to the virtual environment.

Networking is a win-win exchange of ideas, energy and resources – it helps all the people involved, one at a time – which is right back to your relationship comfort zone as an introvert.

Networking is the gateway to marketing visibility by generating more contacts, leads, referrals and, ideally, new clients. The more people you meet, the more business you will generate – it’s plain statistics.

Over time, it will become easier for you to network because have created the conditions and the mindset that support you as you go. Networking really is one of the best strategies for widening your circle of influence, growing your business and making new friends.

Here are 16 points to help create a powerful mindset around networking:

1. It’s not fair to you to be invisible, nor is it fair to the people who need to know you – the ones who can benefit from who you are and what you have to offer. You have to be seen to sell.

2. You get the opportunity to initiate / build several relationships one person at a time. It leverages your time, in the long run, by being open to the possibilities, by having serial meetings with prospective clients at the same time so you have more time later to get on with creating and delivering products. And meeting someone in person is a stronger foundation than meeting via technology, although that is changing as social media and online forums connect people. (Interestingly enough, even virtual communities eventually seem to have events where people can meet in person.)

3. Think of networking as a series of strategic meetings in a finite timeframe. And it’s with people who are generally meeting for a reason or around a particular interest. So only go if it’s something you would like to do or enjoy anyway. And it’s also easier to keep the momentum and it feels more real after you’ve met in person.

4. Remember to speak up and say what you need to, because you are the only one who can say it your way. Nobody gets to speak for you. And you have something to say, or you wouldn’t be in business. Start by talking with one person at a time.

5. Key things to help you: have a concise Audio Logo for introducing yourself, wear your name badge on the right so it’s visible when shaking hands, give your business card only when asked (and ask only for those you really want), understand what can help someone and offer those tools you have to help without any expectation of a return in the moment (you can feel ‘tit for tat’ vs. real connection and so can other people). Also, do not give away your services in the moment – doctors don’t treat patients at networking events.

6. Focus on the people you are meeting, like how they think and what you have that could help them so the focus isn’t on you and which takes the pressure off you to perform or lead the conversation. Since people really don’t get to talk about themselves very often, it actually opens people up to expressing themselves in a very real way. Have you noticed that a stranger will share the most intimate things with you? It happens because you ask them questions that have nothing to do with the event, but instead, to make people feel good and relaxed. Examples are questions like “how did you get started in your business?”, “who is a good referral for you?”, and “how can I help you manifest something right now?”

7. Consider the people who you feel are intimidating to you as a gift for your personal development, because it’s often what they do well that activates your defense mechanism. For example, if they really look the part, seem in their element and are evidently good at what they do, and you feel unworthy somehow, they are showing you your pain points so you can do something about them. Thank them vs. being threatened by them. Also, everyone has a story and, true to the old adage, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Once you know what’s inside, it’s hard to be afraid of anything – especially another person.

8. If you feel out of place, remember your strengths AND that people aren’t paying as much attention to you as you think – they’re probably thinking about themselves more! You can’t really know what people are thinking about you, but you can help guide them by having clear marketing messages and sharing your story. Everyone has a story and, true to the old adage, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Once you know what’s inside, it’s hard to be afraid of anything – especially another person. Trust that you will meet and build relationships with the ‘right’ people – you will know they are the right ones because they like you and you like them. A good business relationship, like any other, is about having a comfort level with that person. It’s the person behind the personae who you want to know, and with whom you will ultimately like and trust enough to share your connections and referrals.

9. Make the environment supportive and comfortable for you. Begin with wearing comfortable clothing that makes you feel good. If you can’t create the physical environment personally, pay attention to your body – position yourself to have a wall behind you, have something in your hands, make sure your business cards are easily accessible. Also, don’t eat or drink too much as that can make you feel uncomfortable. Do not apologize for how you look, how you’re dressed, how you sound or act – project confidence in who you are and know that your physical presentation reflects that. Remember that you are CHOOSING to do this event, so you can also CHOOSE to not do it – you have the power.

10. Set your intentions ahead of time, whether it’s to meet three new people with good connections, share information, learn the latest industry buzz, find someone with a common interest, brainstorm new ideas, celebrate a success, build your referral list, practice your marketing messages, find someone to create a support or an R and D team with, or just remind yourself how good you are at what you do… putting out good energy and keeping an open mind will magnetically draw people to you. Until you get really comfortable in networking, you might want to have several different conversational topics in mind before you get there, or you can simply trust that you will say what you need to say when you are in the moment.

11. As you meet people, ask how you can bring them together with opportunities. Remember that you are sharing good energy with an open mind, which is very attractive to others. It’s the Law of Attraction in its most fundamental form. Besides, that is creating a way to be involved with the people you meet. You get out of something the vibrational match of what you put into it, so go ahead and commit to finding and creating opportunities for others (and you will benefit likewise). You may need to take some time to recover after the event, but while you are there, participate in it as much as you can.

12. If there is someone who wants to explore what you do (as a potential client), follow through by asking more thorough questions. This is how you can mutually determine if your solution is a possible fit. Your potential client will feel your sincerity and that you know what you’re talking about. (Note: A side benefit is that you learn more about how your Audio Logo fits with a real prospective client; they let you know what they care about and if you want to work with more people like them, you can incorporate that information into your audio logo.) Also, there may be times when people aren’t even really asking for themselves, but they want to know what you do because they know someone else who might be interested. Remember that this is not the time to ‘close’ the deal. A rule of thumb is that you should ‘sit to sell’; that is, standing at a social event together is a way to initiate the connection but it’s not the best scenario to actually complete the sale. Instead, create the opening to follow up afterward to talk about specifics.

13. “Leave a door open” with the people you want to connect with again; create the space for future connection by offering one of your tools (a helpful article, an idea, a referral, or another event) to cultivate the relationship. The real networking actually happens after the networking meeting.

14. Take the time to recoup in between networking events! Networking is a win-win exchange of ideas, energy and resources – it helps all the people involved, one at a time. Networking is the gateway to marketing visibility by generating more contacts, leads, referrals and, ideally, new clients. The more people you meet, the more business you will generate. Re-energizing in between events allows you to feel your best in meeting new people.

15. You may want to start your own networking group. This allows you to see the people you know in an environment that you select, and attract the people who want to know you. You become an influencer as people start inviting the people they know to your event. You could do: a monthly targeted marketing forum, a social dinner club, a speaking engagement where people want to hear you, a book review club, and anything that you like to do that can include other people (movies, walking in the park, etc.). Where there are people, there is the potential to network. It’s not about the event anyway – it’s about sharing energy and connecting people. Just as you are looking for kindred spirits, people are looking for excuses to meet others like them.

16. You are a commodity for your business; that is, it’s not about you personally. One of the most common reasons introverts don’t network is because of the fear of rejection. But you are building your business, which is something outside of you – it isn’t you, although your self-image will affect how well you represent your business (see Personal Development section). Recognize that you have a soul-driven purpose to fulfill through your business, that networking is a key strategy to building your business so you can share it with the people who need and want it, but the outcome of networking isn’t tied to your self-worth. In a networking situation, you are simply there to make the ‘right’ connections with the ‘right’ people at the ‘right’ time. And you’ll know that simply because it’s happening in the moment.