The internet is making the world a smaller place. It’s very easy to think that networking can be done through social media and only social media. Even with the people you meet on social media, however, you should still meet in person. You need to get out from behind your computer and meet people. Today I want to share why face-to-face networking is important and how to network even if you’re an introvert.
Networking Provides Immediate Feedback
If all of your meetings are done through email or on social media, then you don’t get that immediate and direct feedback that you do when you’re face to face. You also can’t tell someone’s tone or demeanor if everything is done through typing. This makes it very easy to misconstrue someone’s intent or what they were saying. If you are discussing something in person, then the exchange you have will go differently than it will online. There’s more give and take, so to speak. It’s just faster this way.
Networking Provides a Personal Touch
Having those face-to-face meetings are always just going to be more personal and give you a better way to show who you really are. It’s hard to see what someone’s personality is when you can’t actually see them or hear them. If you want your personality to shine, then you need to have those face-to-face meetings.
Networking Builds Stronger Relationships
There needs to be a human connection. It just builds stronger relationships. You can think a person is great when you meet them online, but to actually see them in action and be a part of their energy is a whole other story.
It is impossible to build a strong relationship with someone if you’ve never spent physical space together. You get to see how they connect with other people as well when you meet with them in person.
Networking Allows You to Read People
There’s a way that we communicate in person that just cannot be expressed on the internet. In person, you can read someone’s body language. You’re able to pick up on sarcasm better when you can hear the tone of someone’s voice or see their face. You just learn so much about a person by seeing their mannerisms.
Networking Helps Avoid Misunderstandings
You might think you are being very clear when you communicate on the internet, but how someone else interprets it is a completely different thing. This is why things can get so heated on the internet. They can quickly escalate with a misunderstanding.
When you have face-to-face conversations, you have a better opportunity to explain your position to help people come to an agreement on things. You can specifically tailor your message to the audience of who you are speaking to instead of such a large group of people with wildly different points of view.
Using social media to connect with your network is great too, but it’s still important to get out there and make personal connections. Whether it be at local business events or you find ways to link up with your online connections, it’s going to be very important to create face-to-face meetings to strengthen those connections.
Networking Tips For The Introverted
Being an introvert and shy might seem like a bad combo for a business owner. However, studies have found that introverts actually make really good leaders. If you can get past your shyness to be able to network with people, then you’re really unstoppable in business.
If the thought of going to a conference or fundraising party has you wanting to curl up in a ball and hide in the corner instead, then try these tips:
If you’re getting ready to go to a large event and find yourself in a panic at the mere thought of it, then change your thinking. Focus on something smaller and not the large room of people. Focus on your goals and what you would like to accomplish at the event instead. Don’t overstay either. It’s okay to duck out early once you have made your meaningful connections.
Prepare yourself in advance
Know who’s going to be at the event and figure out who you’d like to connect with. You can email the person in advance and let them know that you’d like to connect with them and why. Do a little research on their interests as well, to give you some talking points when you do meet.
Work the event
See if you can help plan or set up the event. This will help you to know who the key players are in advance. You can always be the one who picks up someone from the airport to bring to the event so you can have a little one-on-one face time in a less intimidating environment.
Use your shyness as a strength
Introverts make really great listeners, and this is actually a really great way to get people interested in you. If you can muster up the courage to start off with an ice breaker question (like asking what someone thought of the speaker) and then just do what comes naturally to you and listen, then you have marked yourself as someone who can be counted on.
Practice makes perfect
Part of what can make you nervous as an introvert is fear of the unknown. The more events you make a point to attend and practice your elevator speech at, the better and easier it will be. If you know that you have a really important event coming up, then try attending a few other events in advance of it to try out your talk with others first. In this way, you can get it down pat for the moment when it really matters.
Wrap it up
You need to keep the goal in mind the whole while you’re talking with someone. As the conversation comes to a close, make sure that you get a plan in the books to meet again. Exchange business cards and jot some notes down on their card about what you discussed. The next day, send a follow-up email thanking them for the conversation about x, y, and z and then firm up your plans for coffee and an opportunity to talk more.
Ultimately, if you’re an introvert, you’re going to need a plan. Do plenty of research, go with a plan and you’ll leave with the start of the expansion of your network.