Introverts tend to have a love/hate relationship with networking. Since being an introvert has very little to do with being shy, introverts enjoy meeting new people and making important business connections…to a point

While extroverts find networking exhilarating and energy-boosting, introverts generally have the opposite experience. The longer introverts mix and mingle, the more energy they lose. This can make networking somewhat of a dreadful experience without a good plan. 

Introverted business owners need to network as much as their extroverted counterparts, they just need to do it in a different way. Networking doesn’t require being the center of attention, attending large events, and closing things down at midnight with the big dogs.

On the contrary, introverts may have an easier time making deep and meaningful connections thanks to their preferences. Where extroverts tend to connect with as many people as possible, introverts make connections with fewer people in deeper ways.

If you are an introverted business owner, you’ve likely found yourself completely drained after a networking event, or worse, passing them up to stay home and read a book. Neither is ideal for collaborations. What an introvert needs is a good plan to help maximize your networking experience without needing a week of silence afterward. Consider these dos and don’ts for better networking. 

Do – Choose networking events wisely Don’t – Pretend you’re an extrovert
Do – Get your own lodging Don’t – Forget to schedule downtime
Do – Focus on follow-up networking Don’t – Overthink things 

Choose networking events that matter

There’s no shortage of ways to network. From civic groups, conferences, B2B, and more. Do NOT attend them all. That’s a recipe for disaster. Choose your networking experience wisely. 

Which type of networking makes the most sense for your business needs? Do you need to attract customers, find suppliers, build relationships with colleagues? Choose the events that deliver what you need most so you are invested in the social engagement and less likely to skip it. 

Get your own place 

Extroverts love sharing rooms, cars, or doing anything to keep the fun going. Introverts need a quiet space to rejuvenate and be alone. If possible, secure your own flights, cars, and lodging if you are traveling for networking events. The solitude will make it easier to network and be social. But, if traveling with others is a necessity. Try to get to your private room earlier so you have time to get some time for introspection before heading to the event. 

Connect after the event 

One of the easiest ways to network is through follow-up. Connecting with people after an event makes it easier to have a distraction-free conversation. Collecting contacts at events and following up one-on-one is a very effective way to stand out. Be sure to keep those contacts organized. While at the event use a notebook to jot down what you remember or talked about with the person (write down their name, too)  on the other side of that business card. 

Don’t send mixed signals

Be yourself. You may feel compelled to “fake it till you make it” when it comes to networking. To suck it up and attend every event and act like you’re having the time of your life. This may give the wrong signal to people who are attracted to your energy only to discover down the line you are, in fact, an introvert. Be confident in your communication style and don’t try to overcompensate at events. 

Schedule time alone

It may seem like it’s a waste of time to step away from the excitement (and opportunities) at a networking event, but it’s important for introverts to get downtime. Whether it’s taking a 20-minute break in your car or hotel room, eating a meal alone, or going for a run, the downtime will give you the energy to keep networking. Also, schedule a day off (at least a half-day) after big networking events to allow yourself time for quiet and regain energy. 

Don’t worry about it

Introverts process internally which can lead to loops in thinking. If networking is a chore it’s easy to believe you’re not doing it right. Networking isn’t about becoming the darling of the group. It’s about making meaningful and mutually beneficial connections for your business. Don’t overthink things, do your best and have fun. 

The Bottom Line

So, for those who are introverts, you may burst into a cold sweat at the idea of attending a networking event. Or, if your internal groan starts in the parking lot and gets louder as the event continues…. consider that if you choose your path wisely, plan accordingly, and bake in time alone, you may find yourself networking like an extrovert without any of the disadvantages.