Networking can be intimidating. In this article, I’ll offer strategies for how introverts (like me) can network effectively, including tips for building rapport and creating meaningful connections.
“You’re an introvert?” people will question/comment. I reply, “I am a friendly, FUNCTIONAL, introvert.”
I know firsthand how hard it can be to build relationships, especially in today's virtual world. But let me tell you, it's possible!
Why is it so difficult to build relationships?
First off, let's talk about why relationship building can be so challenging. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, networking can be challenging because it requires us to put ourselves out there and be vulnerable. Additionally, with the rise of remote work, building relationships can feel even more difficult, as we miss out on the organic interactions that happen in the office. Rejection is painful.
My experience living as an introvert.
I used to struggle with public speaking. The thought of standing in front of a large audience and delivering a speech was daunting, to say the least. My neck would break out into red blotches. However, I knew that improving my public speaking skills was essential for both personal and professional growth.
That's when I decided to take a different approach and enroll in acting and stand-up comedy classes. At first, the idea of performing in front of strangers was nerve-wracking, but as I continued to practice and develop my skills, I became more comfortable and confident on stage. I learned how to engage the audience, tell compelling stories, and deliver my message with impact.
This out-of-the-box approach to public speaking has been a contributing factor to my success. Not only has it helped me overcome my fear of public speaking, but it has also improved my communication skills and opened up new opportunities for me.
A key learning tip was to write out a draft or bullet points of what I wanted to say. Like a script for a movie, I found that the first time I said ‘my lines’ they were clunky. In entertainment, this is called a “table read” where the cast reads the script and the writers see what words/phrases trip up the actor.
Give yourself the same courtesy(?) and say your introduction out loud as if you were at an event. Maybe turn your phone camera on and video yourself. We are our own worst enemies.
One of the highlights of my public speaking journey was being the commencement speaker at MIT Charm School. It was an honor to share my knowledge and experience with a group of talented graduates who were ready to take on the world. It was also a testament to the power of pushing past your comfort zone and trying new things.
Fear not, introverts and extroverts alike!
While extroverts and introverts get their energy in different ways, they can still face similar challenges when it comes to networking and relationship building.
For example, even though extroverts may find it easier to approach people and strike up conversations, they can still struggle to make meaningful connections or feel overwhelmed in certain social situations.
On the other hand, introverts may have a harder time initiating conversations, but they can be great at listening and building deeper connections with fewer people.
So while extroverts and introverts may approach networking differently, they can still benefit from similar strategies and tips for building relationships. Ultimately, the key is to find what works best for you and your personality type, while also being open to trying new things and stepping out of your comfort zone.
Darling Tips for Building Relationships
Here are some tips for building relationships, even when it feels tough:
- Find common ground: One of the easiest ways to build rapport is by finding common interests with the person you're speaking with. Start with “tell me” … how you know ___ (event, organization, person). Common connections can be anything from a favorite hobby to a shared experience. In fact, a study by Stanford University found that when people have something in common, they're more likely to feel a sense of connection with each other.
- Ask open-ended questions: When you're speaking with someone, try to ask open-ended questions that encourage them to share more about themselves. This can help create a deeper connection and make the other person feel valued.
- Follow-up: After you've made an initial connection, don't be afraid to follow up. Send an email or connect on social media to stay in touch. According to a study by Forbes, following up after an initial meeting can be key to building a lasting relationship.
- Practice active listening: When you're speaking with someone, make sure to really listen to what they're saying. Don't just wait for your turn to speak. This can help you better understand the other person and create a more meaningful connection.
- Be authentic: Finally, be yourself! Authenticity is key to building relationships that last. Don't try to be someone you're not in order to impress someone else. Instead, focus on being genuine and let your personality shine through.
So there you have it, some tips for building relationships when relationship building is hard. Remember, it's not about being the most extroverted person in the room. It's about being genuine, finding common ground, and creating connections that matter. Happy networking!
If you would like to train yourself or your team on how to make the most of your network relationships, let’s talk! Book a call with me here.