As an introvert leader, it’s no mystery to you that you need to expand your network. Nevertheless, that knowledge has done very little to prompt you to do anything about it – has it?
It’s a lot like losing weight. You know you should be exercising and eating right but you just never get around to doing the right thing for yourself.
I could get into all the various reasons why this is your situation, along with scores of others out there just like you. The important thing, is what are you going to do about it?
I might also point out that while your introverted tendencies play a part in your lack of expansion, it’s not the only reason.
Let’s look at some things you could do right now to start your networking expansion project:
Tip #1: Start small. The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. When you’re done reading this article, get up and make contact with someone.
Tip #2: Avoid overwhelming yourself. One issue us introverts have is allowing things like networking to overwhelm us and that tends to shut us down before we ever get started. Don’t plan to parachute into a networking event you dread going to. Just extend yourself at your place of business. Get to know a vendor or customer better.
Tip #3: Enjoy yourself. If you only look at the grim aspect of meeting strangers, you have a right to avoidance. Think about this: everyone you know right now, other than your family, used to be a stranger to you. Think of this as going in search for a new BFF.
Tip #4: Hang a sign around your neck. OK, not a real tip but thought I’d toss that out to see if you were paying attention.
Tip #5: Don’t take things so seriously. Introverts can tend to over think things, especially things we don’t know very well. Just because you have a history of someone not calling you back or not acting interested in you when you met them – it’s not about you! Don’t take their behavior personally.
Tip #6: Script out your greeting. Because we like to plan and to be thoughtful, write out several different things you could say to start conversations. Practice these in the car on your way to an event or in your office before you meet someone new. It will improve your confidence by knowing how to get started.
Tip #7: Make a plan. With something so open-ended like networking, you will probably keep doing nothing if you haven’t thought through what you want to accomplish. Your plan should have a target of how many people you want to develop relationships with (you define what that might look like) and your activities that will get you there. Put these activities in your calendar to help you stay accountable.
Networking may never be the most fun thing you do but the outcome of new relationships will be very rewarding in countless ways. Start today.