Are you an introvert? Are you a writer? Do you know you need social skills in order to grow your business? Me too. Here are some of my favourite networking tips for introverted writers.
In November 2017, Jon Acuff stirred the introvert pot when he Tweeted “Is an introvert really an introvert if they won’t stop telling you they’re an introvert?” It was a weird thing to say but I guess he was trying to be funny about it. If you’re an introvert you understand this is a basic misunderstanding of what an introvert is.
Part of the problem is there’s a dictionary definition for introverts saying they’re shy. But it’s not that.
Introverts have these basic tendencies.
- They enjoy alone time
- They think best when they’re alone
- They wait to be asked for their opinion
- They start shutting down after too much time out
- They are often called “too intense”
- They find small talk cumbersome
- Being in front of a crowd is less daunting than mingling with those people afterwards
- They feel like phoneys when they network
The last three points are the ones I’m interested in today. How on earth do you network in a way that’s true to you when you hate small talk, making small talk with acquaintances is your worst nightmare, and you feel like a huge fake when you drag yourself out and do networking events?
Here are a few strategies I’ve implemented for not just surviving networking events but coming out of them with new relationships, clients, and boosted business skills.
Networking tips for introverted writers
Set mini goals
Networking events are overwhelming but I’ve learned to manage my stress and anxiety by setting mini goals to help me feel like I had a successful outing. Here are a few I’ve used in the past.
- Introduce myself to one new person
- Collect three business cards
- Explain what I do to one person using my elevator pitch
I love mini goals because the MOMENT I achieve it all the pressure is off and I can go back to being a wallflower. Because I did what I came there to do.
Be a helper
I love learning and I love attending conferences. However, the networking and being around people part is tricky. Here’s how I turn things around: I volunteer. It gives me a purpose. When I have a purpose then speaking to people I don’t know is EASY. In fact, it’s fun.
Prepare ahead of time
Sometimes there are people-intensive things you just have to do. The best way I’ve learned to succeed in these times is to be over prepared. I research my location, the people I’ll be meeting with, the places I can retreat if I need some space. By being prepared I don’t have to worry about what to expect…I already know.
Bring a friend
This sometimes feels like a cop out but if you have an extroverted friend who loves networking events…why not ask him/her to be your plus one? You can’t use this as an excuse to stick to your friend all night but you can allow them to take the lead and help you network at your event. I’ve found this useful, especially when I’m attending media events.
Work out your anecdotes ahead of time
OK, this may feel silly and don’t go so far as writing them out on index cards unless you have to. But what if you prepared in advance for small talk? Think of opening lines, a few projects you’re working on, and some questions you can ask people you meet. When you have it worked out ahead of time you won’t stress when you’re in the moment, panicking because you know you need to say something but you have no idea what would be appropriate.
Plan an exit strategy
This can be a strategy to get out of a conversation or a strategy to get out of the event altogether. Think through what you’ll say or do so you don’t come off as rude or abrupt. “Powdering your nose” is one of those strategies, by the way, although I’ve never been brave enough to use it.
Remember, no one cares about you
Yeah, maybe that’s not very nice but it’s true! Everyone else at your networking event is just as wrapped up in him/herself as you are. Let this truth SET YOU FREE and relax.
Many introverts are drawn to writing as it’s—in it’s purest form—an isolated career path. Also introverts find self-expression easier with a pen than their vocal chords.
However, when you’re a freelance writer there’s all this…people stuff. So much people stuff. And it’s important if you want to do anything with your career like grow it. Or get clients. Along the path of my freelance writing journey these are some of the strategies I’ve created for networking and doing the people stuff even when it’s not a natural skill for me. Maybe one of these will work for you.
Do you have any networking tips for introverted writers? I know this can’t be the only ideas out there and I’m always looking for new ways to get better at this skill.