Networking is anathema to most introverts – just the idea of walking into a room full of people talking about themselves in loud voices is enough to bring us out in a cold sweat.
When you eventually get a word in, it can feel like the Spanish Inquisition when someone turns the spotlight on you and asks: “So, what do YOU do?”
And then you get an overwhelming urge to divulge your entire life’s mission in one go – unleashing an avalanche onto your unsuspecting victims.
That’s why this article (Introvert Networking: What to say when they ask “What do you do?”) by Summer Turner is so helpful.
It encourages introverts to think of the “pitch” in networking situations as merely a conversation starter.
In normal conversation, you don’t try to tell the whole story in one go. In rather the same way as you would write an article, you introduce the concept slowly – in manageable chunks. Each chunk is designed to lead you to the next piece of information – so each chunk needs to pique interest.
In The Quiet Entrepreneur online community, we’ve started experimenting with conversation starters and opening lines we can use in networking situations.
Because it’s not just at a formal networking event that someone might ask you what you do. Friends who you haven’t seen for a while, family members, and total strangers who you meet in social situations (in the pub, at a wedding or a birthday party…) could sideswipe you with the same question.
So it’s good to always be prepared!
For example, I might want to say: “I’m a film maker, photographer, artist and writer, and I offer visibility coaching and training to help introverts in business create videos to promote and deliver their services.”
But it’s a bit of a mouthful, and I would probably lose even the most devoted listener after the first phrase!
So how can I make it more manageable?
- I could start off with a short version of who I am:
“I’m a film maker.”
It’s fairly unusual, and people can easily conjure up a picture of what they imagine a film maker to be (Hollywood blockbusters, for instance). And even though their picture might be far off the mark (it is!), it is nevertheless a way to instantly connect with them, by stirring their imagination.
- Or I could start off by describing my tribe:
“I work with introvert entrepreneurs.”
One of the benefits of describing my tribe is that, if the person I’m talking with has no interest whatsoever in my tribe, they will probably end the conversation there and then – so that I can move on to someone who finds it fascinating.
- Or I could start off with what I do for my tribe:
“I help introverts create videos to promote and deliver their services.”
Each of these statements has its merits – one of them being that they are all short. The question is: are they interesting?
Remember, you’re only trying to pique someone’s interest at this stage, to get a conversation started. In a formal networking situation, the likelihood is that the majority of the people you talk to isn’t going to be that interested anyway – so the sooner you can move on to someone who is, the better.
Also remember that networking isn’t about making a sale (although that’s a nice bonus when it happens!) – it’s about making connections with people who connect with other people, and who might mention you to someone else they meet, who needs what you’re offering.
So keep it short and sweet!
About the author Julia Barnickle is a film maker, photographer, artist and writer, and the founder of The Quiet Entrepreneur community for introverts in business. She offers visibility coaching to raise your online profile, and helps you create videos to promote and deliver your services.