21 Mar How to Like Networking if You’re Shy
I’ve always been against networking, not because it’s not useful, but because it’s hard. I hated the small talk, the fake-ness that comes with it, and how exhausting it is. And while a lot of people probably feel this way, being introverted, and especially being shy, adds another level of discomfort to the necessary tool for bloggers and writers. While I’m not the best at networking, I’ve definitely come a long way in terms of being comfortable speaking to people, being professional, and knowing what to say. But as I have made great strides in this area, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned, and hopefully help those not great at networking, and learn how to like networking if you’re shy.
What is Networking?
Networking is important to grow your brand, business, blog, or just personal relationships. It’s basically just connecting with others for your and their benefit. Here are just a few reasons why you should network.
- Meet others in your field.
- Spread the word about your blog, brand, or yourself.
- Gain information about new technology, trends, or information.
- Keep yourself in the “public eye.”
Why Should you Network?
They say, “it’s all about who you know,” and that’s really true. If you never try to meet anyone, even on a business level, you’ll most likely never move forward, or it will be extremely difficult.
If you’re a blogger: As a blogger, networking is essential. You need to connect to other bloggers, travelers, businesses, or companies, all for the purpose of getting information, getting your name out there, and for support and backing. You need to connect to people on all levels, otherwise you’ll never get noticed, or won’t have the same amount of success or recognition you probably deserve.
Benefits of networking as a blogger:
- Can guest post on other travel blogs to increase your rankings and have more exposure.
- Meet people on a personal level who will genuinely want to share your content without much work from you.
- Share links with more successful bloggers who you may not know on a personal level.
- Connect with companies who have similar visions as you.
- Gain information for your owns site, either for content, or to better market yourself and your brand.
- Have your name or brand at least be heard by people. The more people who have heard or seen of you, the more likely you are to be successful. And while simply telling people you’re name won’t make you a success, it’s definitely not going to hold you back.
- And most importantly, networking will create these relationships early, preferably before you actually need them, and you’l keep the the lines of communication open so later when you need something from these people or businesses, you’ll already have a small “in” and won’t be starting from scratch.
If you’re a Traveler: While “networking” is a a clinical term for it, talking to other travelers and meeting locals is essentially networking. You’ll want to learn about the culture, find friends to go out with, and just meet people to talk with.
Benefits of networking as a traveler:
- Meeting locals to learn about the culture.
- Find other travelers to spend your day with.
- Make “friends” from all around the world.
- Make relationships with tour guides or hostel owners for future trips.
General Networking Tips
- In the beginning, think less about what they can do for you and more about what you can do for them. By thinking this way, you’ll have a better relationship because you’ll each think about helping the other, instead of about yourself. You’ll be able to come up with new ways to help the other person, maybe things that person didn’t even think about, and in the end you’ll be able to ask more directly for favors without coming across as pushy.
- Be open and polite- This is obvious, but sometimes people forget that networking is essentially just making friendships. So act professionally, but also down-to-earth and polite so you’ll really make a connection and not just a business transaction.
- Meet with people “outside the box” as well. Don’t just meet with other travel bloggers, but also magazine editors, travel agents, writers, people who just fit your niche. If you only think “inside the box,” you’ll never branch outside to bigger or better things. At first it’s great to just talk with other bloggers and grow your brand, but soon you’ll find you’ve hit a ceiling and you need to start branching out.
- Have Business Cards. You want to be professional and not need to make giving your email or blog url in an awkward way. Having a card will easily hand over your info while also looking with you have your shit together.
- Follow up with your contacts. Maintain the relationship with the people you meet and keep the lines of communication open for future collaboration. Don’t burn a bridge you worked hard to build.
What that means for shy people
I’m always saying that shyness dissipates when you’re comfortable. Follow these tips to get more comfortable and confident.
- Believe in yourself. that what you’re bringing to the table is valuable, despite what you’re probably thinking right before your meeting. Talk yourself up if you have to, remind yourself why you’re so great, why your ideas are special, and how you have a lot to offer their business. Keep thinking this throughout your conversation, but not too much or you’ll forget to focus on them.
- Prepare an introduction. Think of how you’ll introduce yourself, what questions you’ll ask, and what you want to say about the new “relationship.” This way you won’t stumble over words to try to remember what’s important. “Excuse me, (their name, if you know it). Hi, I’m Mackenzie, I’m…” I’ll finish with either telling how we already know each other, a little about myself, or asking about them or their business.
- Learn as much as possible before you meet with your contact. If you already have an idea of their business, you’ll be able to ask more meaningful questions, and possibly come up with a plan for collaboration.
- If you don’t have time for research, listen carefully to what they say and think of questions while they speak so you have something to follow up with, especially when meeting other travelers. Asking meaningful questions is key to the back and forth. But asking questions just for questions sake isn’t a great idea.
- If possible, have something in your hands. If you’re at a party, a drink can be great way to keep your hands from feeling “empty.” I never know how to stand without looking awkward and I tend to fidget with my hands, touching my hair, adjusting my shirt, folding my arms, so if I have something in them you’ll look and feel less awkward.
- Have an exit plan. Sometimes a conversation can drag on, become awkward, or you really do have somewhere to go, so having a sentence planned, or an excuse to leave is a good way to stay professional without seeming awkward or like you’re running away. I use something like, “Excuse me, I need to meet a friend (colleague, etc.). It was great talking to you, let’s get together (call, email, etc.)” and then possibly add something personal that you learned about them: “Good luck with X project,” or “Hope your meeting goes well.”
- If possible, talk about or work with your passions. While this may not always be possible, though hopefully if you’re a travel blogger it is, but if you like what you’re talking about you’re going to be happier, more confident, and more laid back while talking to others about it.
- Still be yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, just be you, a little more open than usual. You don’t have to suck up to people or pretend to be someone you’re not. If you’re shy, don’t say you’re outgoing. Just be open and honest, up front, but just less scared and timid than you might be in other situations.
Here are some other great tips from CIO about networking for shy people.
So Why Should I Like Networking If I’m Shy?
I’ve told you information on why you should network, how to network, and even how to network if you’re shy, but I haven’t yet told you why you should like it. And here’s why.
The Big amount of effort you put into the Small instances of networking at the beginning, will pay back Doubly later.
Most people are shy when around new, intimidating, or important people, so the more people you meet and become acquainted with, hopefully the less shy you feel on the second, third, fourth meetings. And while maybe the initial meeting won’t take away all shyness for coming encounters, it will definitely break the ice. So instead of becoming “sort of” acquainted with someone, and needing to speak with them 5 more times, each time feeling awkward, I could have just made a great first impression, networked my butt off, and felt more confident about the next encounters because I’m sure they remember me, sure they like what I’m doing, and sure that we are on the same page.
Are you shy? Tell me about how you network, or try some of my tips and leave me a message about your experience, in the comments below!