Anyone who dreams of professional success needs to learn to quickly react to the rapidly changing environment. The best way to do this is by building a wide circle of professional contacts who can help you to rapidly resolve any issues. But how do you build social connections with new people? This is where networking comes in.
Networking is a practice built at the intersection of art and science. It is used for developing a wide network of contacts with other people. A group is always more powerful than an individual. By making some useful acquaintances, you will be able to achieve greater heights in business and in your personal life.
However, as we know quite well, each person has their own unique personality. Some people feel recharged after talking to someone. They feel at ease at business conferences, workshops and meetings. They have no trouble getting along with other people and networking. These people are usually called extroverts.
Introverts are the polar opposite. Unlike extroverts, they don’t feel invigorated by conversations, losing energy instead. At mass events, they are usually isolated, standing in a corner with their eyes glued to their smartphone. It’s important to note that introversion is not synonymous with shyness. In reality, it is a reaction against external stimuli, a hereditary psychological trait.
Their tendency towards solitude allows introverts to fulfill their creative potential and handle long hours of difficult work. On the other hand, they have difficulties with promoting their ideas to large groups of people.
It would be a mistake to assume that networking was created exclusively for sociable people. By taking advantage of the advice in this article, you will learn to make useful connections and close valuable deals even if your communication skills are far from advanced.
Building a network of contacts
Before starting to develop your social connections, you need to assess your current situation. To do this, we recommend building a map of your professional contacts, a visual representation of your position in society. This map doesn’t have to follow any particular design, but it might be practical to place your name at the center of the page, connected by ‘branches’ to the names of your acquaintances.
If you’re an introvert, you will probably finish with a sheet of A4 paper that still has some free space to fill, but all of your contacts are probably strong and deep. This map of social connections will help you to identify potential business partners and ‘diamonds’ in your network. You should especially highlight people who will be able to give you access to an even wider network of contacts - sales leaders and popular people with a lot of acquaintances.
Try to analyze how much time you spend on talking to each one of them and how mutually beneficial your relationships are. Invest your time and energy into the most useful contacts and gradually expand your network by attending various events. Remember that business is all about connections, and the quality of your connections defines the success of your entire enterprise.
A static network of contacts is a negative sign. If you do everything right, the number of your connections will grow at a steady pace, even though some of your connections will inevitably die out.
Networking as a lifestyle
As soon as you evaluate your circle of acquaintances, you will understand the goal of networking. This is a good point to talk about reevaluating a negative attitude towards this process.
There are numerous articles and even books advising introverts to adopt various types of behavior at public events, but all of them can be limited to a single simple rule: take control over the situation.
Stop passively observing everything that is happening around you and become an active part of it. Take part in conversations and meet other people. Think of it as an exciting game and take pleasure in your participation.
If this is not enough to get you out of your shell, try some of the tips listed below.
Preparing for the event:
- Before the event, try to review the agenda and the list of attendees.
- Put together your own action plan including the goals that you would like to achieve. This will help you avoid procrastination and achieve maximum efficiency.
- Rehearse a short but informative story about yourself to avoid any awkwardness during introductions.
- Start talking to guests at the event before the start of the official part. This will make them feel more comfortable around you and allow you to pick up where you left off later.
- Create a list of general topics and issues that you are interested in.
At the event:
- Networking works best when you get a chance to speak to someone privately, so don’t be afraid of one-on-one meetings.
- The best way to meet someone new is by asking a common acquaintance to introduce you. A personal recommendation will help you launch a new relationship from a position of mutual trust.
- Give yourself time on your own to recharge your moral strength. Take breaks between conversations.
- Introverts are amazing listeners, and this quality will always be highly sought-after.
It’s not always possible to close a deal at the event. To make sure your contacts stay active, keep in touch after the event. Messengers and social networks are excellent tools to keep the connection alive.
When you write to a new acquaintance on WhatsApp or Facebook, you demonstrate your reliability and willingness to invest in the relationship. Online communication is much easier for introverts than its real-life equivalent, so the Internet can become a great networking tool.
Nevertheless, it’s not a good idea to limit all communication to messaging: personal meetings will always be the best instrument for establishing contacts. Introverts shouldn’t treat it as an obligation. Develop a creative approach to networking, consider communication to be an investment into your future, and you will certainly achieve all your goals.