Networking and introverts

Last year I wrote a nifty post about networking as an introvert.

There are two things I love about that post:

  1. Marti Olsen Laney’s book The Introvert Advantage is referenced (I love that book) – specifically her definitions of introversion and extroversion.
  2. I share some tips AND in the comments Christina shares some great tips.

Share your networking tips below or on that post.


What would you do?

QuestionHere’s the situation.

You’re new to the area and interested in networking with other business owners.

At an event you meet a new friendly face and she invites you to a group that she leads. It sounds like it’s a good fit.

A couple of weeks later you’ve found the event online and decide to attend.

As you drive there you’re nervous and picturing the group in your mind. You’ll see the person who invited you and a handful of other people enjoying breakfast and connecting with each other.

You’re also thinking about the things that aren’t getting done while you’re out networking.

Relax you tell yourself. Meeting new people is an important part of growing your business. And there’s probably at least one great connection at this group.

You walk in a couple minutes late and talk to the hostess. She isn’t sure there’s a group meeting, but points you in the direction of the room they’d be in if they are.

You walk through the door and initially see no one, and then you turn and see two other women – neither of them them the person that invited you. Hmm, not what you’re expecting.

You put on your warmest smile and walk in as the other women rise to great you.

As you talk, it quickly becomes apparent that the three of you will be the entire group, no one else is coming. And, while the other two ladies are nice, they’re neither potential referral partners or clients.

And you’re thinking about how much better your time could be spent whittling down your to-do list.

This isn’t a group for you and you decide to leave. You apologize to the others and walk out feeling a bit nervous but also relieved.

Question 1: Would you do anything differently?
Question 2: How do you think this was perceived by the two ladies remaining?
Question 3: Were there any missed opportunities here?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Next week we’ll dive a bit deeper.​

You always have more to offer than you think you do

This is the fifth installment of the 8 easy-to-make networking mistakes that can be avoided series.

This week’s mistake is: I assumed I had nothing to offer in the way of connections or possible referrals.

My belief around business relationships was they were only useful if you immediately had something to offer in the way of connections or possible referrals.

And I did not have any of that (partially because I wasn’t willing to share the contact info of my friends and family).

Therefore, I thought I had nothing to offer.

This was completely NOT true.

While I didn’t have a large business network of people I knew well, I could have started to slowly build my business network and then connecting people I was meeting.

And while I might not have known people to immediately refer to them, I’m a really good listener and I absorb information that I can usually share fairly easily.

You always have more to offer than you think you do.So, despite feeling like I had nothing to offer, I had three very important and useful things:

  1. My listening talents.
  2. An ability to share information.
  3. A growing list of business friends and acquaintances.

You always have more to offer than you think you do!

Besides how you help people in your business, what do you have to offer? Share in the comments below!

The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity. - Keith Ferrazzi

The real purpose of meeting people for coffee

This is the fourth installment of the 8 easy-to-make networking mistakes that can be avoided series.

This week I’m going over two mistakes:

  1. I assumed coffee meetings were only for selling your service/product.
  2. I didn’t do follow-up calls with people I met or set up coffee meetings.

Because I assumed that meeting people for coffee was only for selling your service or product, that was the energy I put out there. Part of that was because I really did want people to meet with me to find out more about what I did and then buy from me.

The result was, aside from Robin (who knew how to network, offered great advice and referred me to my current accountant), 90% of the coffee meetings I went to were people doing their sales pitch. I rationalized that it was okay because I expected it.

And because I was primarily meeting with only people who wanted me to buy their things, calling them later or having another coffee meeting never even crossed my mind. After all, I still wasn’t interested in their service or product (remember I thought coffee meetings were to sell your service/product).

Unfortunately, there are many people out there who have been networking for years and believe that coffee meetings and follow-up phone calls ARE only about selling your service/product.

And some of them have built fairly successful businesses doing that. Here’s what I’ve noticed though, they constantly have to find new places to network.

Why? Because they get the reputation of being that guy who just wants to sell you their stuff. Then their potential for sales quickly plummets and they have to find somewhere else to network where they don’t have that reputation or encourages that kind of thing.

I don’t know about you, but that method of sales seems completely exhausting to me. Seriously, I’d rather get another job working for someone else – I’d feel less icky at the end of the day.

So, what’s the alternative look like?

The real purpose of meeting people for coffee is:

  • Getting to know the other person and their business
  • Discovering who their ideal client is
  • Finding out what resources they might need

The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity. - Keith FerrazziBasically, the purpose of coffee meetings are to build business relationships, friendships even.

And you do that by being curious about the other person. Who do they serve, why do they serve them? What do they like about what they do?

You continue to build that relationship by doing follow-up calls and coffee meetings later. Discover what new things are happening for them and their business. Learn if something has changed.

Your business relationships are built by continuing the conversation over time, just like any other relationship.

I invite you to share something a little different – share what your best coffee meeting was and why it was the best. If you don’t have an example that springs to mind, share what you think it would look like in the comments below!

The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake - you can't learn anything from being perfect. - Adam Osborne

The most valuable thing

This is the third installment of the 8 easy-to-make networking mistakes that can be avoided series. This week’s mistake is: I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so much so that I didn’t have a clue what to ask my coach for help with.

My coach had built a successful business, in large part to her networking and follow-up.

And she had faced many of the same problems and frustrations as I was facing.

However, all her knowledge and experience couldn’t help me when I didn’t know what to ask.

I listed “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” as a mistake, but actually it’s not a mistake as much as it is part of the learning process.

It’s something to be expected and even celebrated (if you wait until you’re sure you have no blind spots, aka perfection, you’ll never start).

If I had realized how many mistakes I was making, I probably would have gone and hid under the covers.

The only mistake here is NOT taking the opportunity to learn from your mistakes when you realize you made them. Don’t worry about them or beat yourself up, just learn from them and move on.

And I’m thankful that I did have a coach who was able to help me be as prepared as I was. I’d have many more “mistakes” to share without her support and guidance (regardless of the questions I didn’t know to ask).

The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake - you can't learn anything from being perfect. - Adam OsborneSo, there are two lessons here:

  1. Recognize that you’re going to make mistakes AND that is OKAY.
  2. Have a coach to support you and help you be prepared.

Share some of the things you didn’t know you didn’t know about business or networking in the comments below!