I’m a Creative.
And I’m an Introvert.
And I’m a Tech geek on top of that.
And it’s hard to get me out the door to talk to actual other human beings.
I watch Extroverts and natural sales people and wonder what planet they’re from.
There’s a little block in my mind when I think about getting out of my nice quiet house for the purpose of networking or masterminding. It says
“don’t go, you’ll be embarrassed or say something stupid or you’ll just meet people that are a pain … you don’t want to listen to someone else’s problems. Stay here with the music and snacks that you actually like and just work on the computer.”
I have to admit that voice wins out far too often, but as I venture further down my own entrepreneurial journey I see more and more how important it is to get out and network, speak, be an expert, and show off the products and services we sell that can be of service to the right people.
In fact some of the business ideas we are looking at developing will fail from the get go unless I’m taking an active role as the face of the business.
Here are some things I suggest you can do go from hiding out in your house all the way to participating and speaking up in business group settings.
1. Find your peeps
As an introvert it is *far* easier to think about interacting with others when you know they are like-minded. If you jump off the deep end and try a local chamber of commerce networking event you are going to have a hard time. If you find a meet up (meetup.com) that resonates with you it is much more likely that there will be a few other people there that share your interests. This is a lower-stress opportunity to show off your expertise and products without having to be salesy: you’re just chatting and helping people know, like, and trust you.
If you want to take meetups to the next level you can organize one of your own.
2. Join a co-working space
I joined the Impact Hub here in Santa Barbara to force me to get out of the house and work with other people around and it helped. Yes, it costs money but sometimes we need a financial incentive to get ourselves in gear. An guess what? Most of the people there are in a similar state. This also has the side-benefits of making be want to dress reasonably and, you know, return from caveman status and become a functioning member of society again.
3. Find opportunities to network one on one
One of my stresses comes from being in larger groups and I find them quite overwhelming. It doesn’t always need to be like that. At my co-working space there are always opportunities to just talk or go to lunch in a group of 2 or 3. Of course those aren’t sales conversations but they are always great ways for more people to find out about how you serve the world. You don’t have to tell 100 people at a time about your products and services. It’s just as doable to have many small group conversations and often more memorable for everyone involved.
4. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to have a sales outcome from a conversation
This is a big one for me! I get inside of my head about what’s going to happen, whether I’m going to fail or stumble, whether they won’t like me or I won’t like them, whether they’re the right client. Just STOP. It’s just another person, quite possibly as messed up as I am sometimes. Here’s what’s going to happen: you are going to smile and shake their hand and introduce yourself and be funny/charming/whatever’s good about you, they will do the same, and you’ll chat. But here’s the key: you are going to LISTEN, HARD. By listening and not just waiting for your turn to speak you are doing them a service, and that is the beginning of them knowing, liking, and trusting you.
5. If all else fails, at least join some 2-way video-conferencing groups
While this won’t give you all of the visual, audible, and sensory cues that we get from in-person communications at least you will get the chance to talk with others face to face. This is sufficient to get to know people and for them to begin to know, like, and trust you. Just as with creating your own meet up you can create your own live webinar (we use Zoom) and teach, talk, and interact.
Our ability to take part in a community is integrally linked to our body’s physical and mental health: people who have family and friends around them live longer. The same thing holds true for the health of our business. You can get out the door … it’s hard at first but you’ll get better at it!