Before I share the story and give you my tips on networking for introverts, or as I like to think of it – networking the authentic way – a quick disclaimer. I’m not an expert of introversion or networking, I can only speak about my own experience and what I do to build my network, make new business friends and grow my business.
The Urban Dictionary defines introvert as:
“A person who is energized by spending time alone… Contrary to popular belief, not all introverts are shy. Some may have great social lives and love talking to their friends but just need some time to be alone to “recharge” afterwards.”
My need to recharge has led to various moments in my life that my more extrovert friends find hard to understand – recently I left a friend’s hens night BEFORE the stripper arrived. No one could believe it.
I would love to share a picture of what I missed at this point but I don’t want to get my friend in trouble!
So what’s this about adventures in New York City?
Two weeks ago I traveled from Melbourne, Australia to New York City for a series of events organised by Selena Soo of S2 Groupe. Selena is a high level Business and Publicity Strategist and is extremely well-connected in the online marketing world.
The highlight of the events was an private invite-only VIP Mastermind Day with other successful business owners, many running seven figure businesses.
Selena arranged Todd Herman as a speaker for us. I’ve never seen anyone be able to pinpoint business issues and on the best solution so quickly and concisely. His interview and business advice on the day was incredible.
Here are some pics of the day. Selena hosted us at her apartment. As you can see the views are amazing:
Here’s our speaker – Todd Herman:
After the Mastermind Day Selena hosted a VIP dinner for us in the cellar of a fabulous nearby restaurant:
If you have been seeing what’s going on in the online world for a while you likely recognise quite a few faces in the room.
At the weekend was the main public event – GKGC Live – which I have to say was extremely inspirational. If it does happen again next year I highly recommend you go!
Here’s Selena rocking the stage:
All in all an incredible few days.
So what does going to these events mean for my business?
For me being invited to the mastermind day is a game-changer. The connections and friendships that were formed means I have access to ask for opinions of successful business owners who are further ahead of me and I can potentially form joint venture partnerships. The connections will be priceless. It means opportunities that previously would have been more challenging to pull together can now happen much more easily. Being at the invite-only event also positions me as a future thought leader, alongside the others in the room.
I know there are some of you reading who might not like the fact that connections mean so much so here’s my opinion on that:
Almost anything worthwhile in life involves help from other people.
And business is not different. In business so much relies on relationships. In order to succeed I believe people need to lift you up – your clients and your peers. it’s the same as your work environment – if you are known to do good work that will enable you to move up the ranks. If you have good relationships with people, i.e. you have good people skills that will accelerate the pace. People want to help other people. So be the person people want to help.
As a business owner there is nothing scammy about letting other people know what you are doing – in fact I consider it non-negotiable.
You do have to get your work out there if you want anyone to find it. Getting your work in front of people who might like to help you is another aspect of that.
What I did before, during and after the event in order to make this happen
So you might be wondering at this point how I got invited to this event. Here are the details and this is what I recommend you do too in order to network and build genuine relationships.
1. Build real relationships over time – with peers, hired help, mentors and coaches
There’s a few different types of relationships here so let’s break it down.
I’ve been building a relationships with business peers ever since I’ve been in business. Not in a scammy – ‘here’s my card’ type way. More that I just reached out to people who were at my level or a bit ahead and said – ‘hey, we are doing similar things, we have mutual friends, want to have a Skype chat?’.
Nearly all of us are plugging away at our computers each day so it’s seriously a relief to just connect and have a chat with a cool person and see what they are doing and potentially how you can help each other. It’s like a break but you get to call it work!
Don’t be afraid to reach out and make friends. Everyone needs connection. Even though I hadn’t had much direct contact with anyone at the mastermind except Selena I was connected through friends to almost everyone there.
You would be amazed how well connected some of the people you hire to help you with your business are. When I wrote this huge in depth article on ways to get clients in a new business I got many of the connections through people who worked for me. This is because they weren’t just working for me, they were working for everyone else as well.
This is all part of my ethos that we are all peers. Just because I am doing the hiring it doesn’t mean we can’t have a business relationship on an equal footing. Plus I find when you have a great relationship with people who work for you, you have much more fun in your business.
Coaches and mentors
I don’t see many people doing this, but when I hire a coach or mentor to help me with my business I consider that person a future business partner – again, we are all peers, just doing different things at different experience levels. This is how I’ve treated the relationship with all the coaches I worked with.
I don’t see that person as being ‘better’ than me or ‘more senior’. More than likely they have just been in the game longer. Coaching with someone is a chance to show that person the great work you are doing, or aspiring to do if you are new. That person may open doors for you later on. They may, they may not, it’s not about being transactional, it’s about showing you have the chops and the drive in front of the right people and opportunities will start to come your way.
On a practical level this means being a good client, implementing your coach’s suggestions, helping your coach out if appropriate, and if you are going through some kind of disaster (it happens, trust me) let them know you’re struggling but let them what you have come up with first to solve it. Remember, you are future business partners, it’s not the right place for emotional melt downs!
Everybody you work with is a potential strategic partner and may well refer you business. So show up in the best way that you can. That doesn’t mean never showing weakness or never asking for help, but it does mean being thinking about your behaviour at more than a surface level.
2. Mindset shift – Networking is another term for making friends
Networking can appear on the outside to be transactional – let’s exchange business cards, tell each other who our ideal client is, move on and add the cards to a growing pile at home.
Honestly, I don’t think those kinds of interactions lead to much. I much prefer to have actual real conversations with people. This can be difficult at an event because there is so much going on and you will get interrupted, most likely constantly. That’s why I recommend reaching out to people one on one, which if you are an introvert is likely your preferred scenario anyway, rather than going to events and trying to connect with people amongst all the noise.
It’s all about making real connections, making real friends, not about trying to get something out of the other person.
Really all networking is is making friends. If you approach it that way you’ll make better connections and you’ll get more out of the experience.
3. If you’re going to an event make it easier on yourself and start conversations with people before you leave
If there are people going to an event that you’d like to connect with reach out first and let them know you are looking forward to meeting them. Who knows, they may be just as nervous as you are! Worst case scenario they are more likely to remember you and have more time for you at the event.
I did this with a couple of people I had a loose connection with before GKGC Live so that when we did meet 1) I had something to say and 2) they were much more likely to remember me. Plus it made me feel more relaxed about meeting so many people all at once.
I find this really helps make an impression on people. You can do this over Facebook messenger, twitter, email, choose the way you think you’re most likely to get through.
4. Make the move even if you are scared
At the GKGC Live event Selena handled people’s fears around approaching the ‘internet famous’ like an absolute pro. She let everyone know that the VIPs she had brought along WANTED to meet everyone and that it was totally okay to go up and chat and ask for a picture.
I have to say getting that permission so explicitly and obviously helped a lot and led to this:
I know Ramit’s style is not for everyone but if you are interested in being a top performer I highly recommend following Ramit’s work. I told him myself I have so many of his courses they no longer fit into the menu on his site.
It goes both ways as well, I had a lovely chat with Carolynn Ananian of cananian.com who let me know she used one of blog posts to get new clients for her copywriting business.
Ok, but let’s say no one gave you permission – do it anyway!
People in the public eye who write for their audience and make courses for their audience unsurprisingly do actually care about their audience. They want to meet people and hear that their work is impacting lives.
No one gave me permission to ask Todd Herman, I just asked and not only did he say yes, he made it the best selfie of the event! Okay, I did have the excuse it was for my personal trainer (true story) but never the less I took the leap, had a conversation and then got a fabulous picture.
I figured I didn’t sit on a plane for 24 hours for nothing!
5. Conserve your energy
As an introvert I did need to recharge on the four day marathon of meeting new amazing people. There were I’m sure lots of people who were out every night until all hours with their amazing new friends. Me? Not so much. Although admittedly I didn’t get much sleep, but that was jet lag, not going to karaoke. Yes, I’m looking at you Fiorella, Jaime-Lee, Mark and Siva ;-)
I purposely got a place by myself because that way I knew I’d be able to recharge in between all the madness. Did that mean I missed out on some stuff – yes absolutely, and I wish in many ways I would be more sociable or extroverted but conserving my energy meant the times I did spend hanging out and meeting everyone were much more amazing for me.
6. Follow up
In order to cement the connections you’ve made once you get home I think it’s really important to follow up. Write something short and personal to the people you want to keep in contact with. It shows you valued the connection and it matters to you. Honestly, I am not done with this yet myself after the big trip, but I think it’s important.
If you want to build genuine relationships with people nurture the relationship, don’t just have that one connection point.
Now I’d love to hear from you
What is your experience of networking?
Do you get energized by meeting new people or do you love meeting people but need to recharge afterwards?
How do you manage your energy at big events?
As a p.s Selena currently has a program open called Impacting Millions that goes into detail on growing your network and getting publicity. I don’t get anything out of this, I’m not an affiliate, if you are interested you can check out the details here. I’ll be in the program.