Network Like a Pro: 21 Tips From a Closet Introvert

Networking For IntrovertsYou can’t build a business without a network. You can’t start a new project without support. It just can’t be done. You need people in your corner. For an introvert, this can be the one obstacle that freaks you out and keeps you from getting into the game.

A year and a half ago, one of my biggest fears was the fear of meeting new people. I was a complete introvert. I had my friends and that was about it; no need to meet new folks. Well, that’s a dangerous attitude to have if you’re starting up a real estate business.

The introvert in me had to grow up and learn how to get out there and meet people. It’s been a great journey in which I’ve learned much more than can be contained in just one blog post. These are the tips I’ve picked up along the way….

  1. Don’t Sweat It – It’s easy to psych yourself out when walking into a networking event or a party. Take a deep breath and calm down. You’ll do just fine.
  2. Have a Goal - It’s easy to walk into a room full of 20 people and get overwhelmed. When I started out, I would walk in with the goal of having 5 meaningful conversations. Once I hit that goal, I was free to leave and retreat to the safety of my PJs and couch.
  3. Go Where Your People Are - It’s hard to connect in a room full of people who are completely different than you. Where are you most likely to find people who are like you? When you go out and…
  4. Do What You LIke to Do -  I’m a geek, so I like to go to technology events and mingle with fellow geeks.
  5. Know Thyself – Know who you are and what you do. People will ask. As lame as it may sound, come up with a little script that describes who you are and what you do.
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  7. Have a Positive Mindset - Nobody likes the negative guy. It’s ok to be in a bad mood, but you’ve got to put that aside and be happy in the moment. I’d argue that, if you can’t get to a positive place, you’re better off leaving the party and going home.
  8. Smile – Once you’ve got your happy hat on, don’t be afraid to smile. Be warm, inviting, and open. You may be afraid to approach a random stranger, so make it easy for others to approach you.
  9. Make Eye Contact – Don’t be shifty. Would you trust someone who couldn’t look you in the eye?
  10. Introduce Yourself – It’s first impression time. Be confident and deliver that little script we talked about earlier.
  11. Listen Attentively – Don’t scan the room. Don’t think about what’s for dinner. Be in the moment and truly present with that person. Listen to the words that they say and get to know where they’re coming from.
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  13. Speak Openly – When it’s your turn to talk, don’t hold back. This isn’t the time to be cryptic or withholding. Talk about who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Give the other person a chance to get to know you.
  14. Don’t Sell Anything – Nothing turns me off quicker than hearing a sales pitch from someone I just met. I’m not alone in my disdain for that sort of thing.
  15. Seek Opportunities to Be Generous – Instead of selling, why not focus on giving? Giving will get you everything you want.
  16. Be Authentic – Don’t put on a show for people. Be genuine. Be who you are. It’ll set you apart.
  17. Be Different – When I go to Chamber of Commerce events, I’m usually one of ten REALTORs in the room. If I don’t set myself apart, I’m dead.
  18. Connect – Ask questions and dig. Find common interests with people and explore them. What else are you going to talk about?
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  20. Quality Over Quantity – Don’t walk in feeling like you need to meet everyone in the room. I would rather leave with 5 new friends than 10 new acquaintances.
  21. Follow Up – Why go out and meet people if you’re not going to stay in touch. Don’t be afraid to call your new contacts, write them a note, send them an email, etc.
  22. Get Connected Digitally – If I get your business card, we’re getting connected on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I suggest you do the same. Social networking provides an excellent means for getting connected with folks and staying in touch.
  23. Continue to be Generous – Always seek out opportunities to help others and their businesses. If you’ve got a colleague or friend that they would benefit from knowing, go ahead and make that connection. You’ll develop a reputation as being a person of value, which is huge.
  24. Build a Relationship – This is what its all about, isn’t it? Why go out and meet people just for the sake of meeting people?

The whole idea is to get out there, make friends and develop relationships. As someone who went from introvert to social butterfly in a year, I can promise you this: Life is infinitely better when you break out of your shell and meet new people.

Do you have any tips to add?

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  • Molly Pearson

    I think it’s incredibly important to first understand the value of meeting new people and networking. If you see it as more of an obligation than a privilege, it is very difficult to act out all of the other great tips.

    I would also add that it’s important to not try to be someone that you’re not. We’re not all made to be extroverts. Certainly, as an introvert, it’s beneficial to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. However, if you try too hard to be the life of the party or the social butterfly, you risk either being socially awkward or so focused on meeting as many people as possible that you fail to develop genuine relationships. Be natural and, as you said, focus on developing genuine relationships with those you meet.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Spot on, Molly. It’s important to get out of your comfort zone in order to grow, but you should never strive to be someone you’re not. For me, it took a little intentional action to realize that getting out and meeting new people IS a privilege and not an obligation. Thanks for commenting!

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  • Danny Anderson

    Kenny, you are a sensitive, thoughtful writer. I throughly enjoyed your articles and your insight into issues we face daily. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and leave the kind words, Danny.