Awkward and Introverted

Business is all about networking and I will be the first to admit that I suck at it. Fellow introverts will understand- going to conferences, jumping into young professional events, talking to someone you’ve never met- whew- my heart rate just skyrocketed. Anyone else?

Don’t get me wrong- this does not mean that introverts are poor communicators. On the contrary, some of us are excellent at interacting with others. We simply crave getting to know people on more intimate terms. We prefer a one-on-one to a big event- we prefer getting to know the individual as opposed to the group. Put us in a group, even with just two or three people we don’t know, and we probably come off as rude, awkward, shy or all three- which is unfortunate because we probably think you all are very nice.

Here is the issue I continuously run into and I’m hoping for a little help with, world.
My “network” consists of people whose webinars I sign up for and whose classes I take. I read their books and I study their business plans. An extrovert would attend their social events, meet various individuals just like themselves, and easily bond and forge new friendships. An introvert wants to get to know those same people- but usually aren’t sure how.

Therefore, outside of making my soul (and the souls of my introverted friends) cry by being something we’re not and just diving into the whole experience, signing up for events like Young Professionals and WDS and TEDx, shaking a lot of hands, and sitting in giant networking circles, how do we make the connections we need to make to succeed at small business? I’m all for getting out of my comfort zone, but the advice I receive is always “just do it!” and it doesn’t work that way, people. You don’t tell a cat to bark, you don’t tell a fish to climb a tree…you have to give them other avenues to talk the talk and walk the walk. So what are some tips to help an introvert network successfully?

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