4 Ways to Network Intentionally Online (Psst...Introvert-Friendly)

As a somewhat shy introvert, the word networking makes me cringe and want to hide. I imagine a big open room with people throwing elevator pitches at each other all night. I know this isn't reality (for the most part) but the idea still doesn't sit well with my personality. So naturally I gravitate toward networking online. It's not only good for introverts, but it's also more convenient, more targeted, and further reaching. By networking online I've been able to get clients from all over the world (UK, Greece, Australia, South Africa and Germany, to name a few!) and have built strong friendships and business relationships with others I've met through the methods below.

The other week I attended an #ellechat with the topic of authentic networking. The word "introvert" came up A LOT as you can imagine, considering we were on Twitter. Other phrases that really got me thinking were "authentic networking" and "network intentionally."

Authentic Networking

Authentic networking means not approaching every new connection solely as a business opportunity, but as a new relationship. 

It requires making genuine connections + being supportive of others in the industry. It means being able to joke, show flaws, and give real feedback.

Intentional Networking

The key to networking intentionally is knowing you can add value to that person's life.

It means reaching out to someone you are interested in speaking with, working with, or helping in some way. It can be as simple as leaving a blog post comment that adds value to the post. It's strategic in that you have researched the person or have connected with their content.

Now that you're thinking more about the way you that you network, let's see where you can network.

4 Places to Network Online

Twitter Chats

I am all about Twitter chats lately. I started with #ellechat and have jumped into #createlounge and #blisschat.

If you're not familiar, a Twitter chat is where a group of people discuss a designated topic at a specific time on Twitter, using a specific hashtag and being lead by a host asking questions. The chats usually last for an hour.

You can come and go as you please and get to know people before approaching them. You get to see the interactions happening before jumping into a side conversation, which is much more comfortable than if you were to do the same in person (I'm imagining the awkwardness of eaves dropping on an in-person conversation the same way you can on Twitter. Creepy!).

Further Reading:

Twitter Chats 101: A Step-by-Step Guide To Hosting or Joining a Twitter Chat

Twitter Chat Schedule

Blog Comments

Leaving authentic, meaningful comments on blogs is still a great way to make a connection. The interaction isn't as immediate, and you may not get a response, but I've still met many great business connections this way.

Just make sure you're adding to the conversation. If you really connected with someone's post, let them know why. Start a conversation.

Online Associations

In January I joined the Female Entrepreneur Association, which is an international association based in the UK. Connecting with others all over the world is one benefit to internet networking as opposed to in-person. We have an amazing Facebook group where women share ideas, answer questions, and inspire each other daily.

It does come with a monthly fee, but that means everyone in the group is dedicated and motivated. Because of that, I can ask for a referral (someone to hire for a specific task) and know that it's more trustworthy. These aren't people just trying to sell themselves to everyone in the group.

To me, that's very targeted (intentional) networking. We're all interested in the same overall topic (female entrepreneurship) and help each other out with referrals and tips.

Meetup.com

The first three were solely-online options, but it's still important to get in front of people and make face-to-face connections. What I like about Meetup.com is that you can get to know who is going to the event before you show up. You can check out their profile and see what you might have in common. There are also very niche specific meetups, so it's not just a general "business networking" event.

A general tip for in-person networking is to bring a friend along as a buffer. Limit your time talking with them and stand side-by-side rather than face-to-face if you do. Showing up with someone may help you feel more comfortable.


In the Comments:

What does "authentic networking" mean to you?

What is your favorite way to network online?

4 Comments

Danielle Zeigler

I'm Danielle, an SEO and Digital Marketing Strategist on a mission to help creatives and entrepreneurs harness their strengths, personality, and energy to easily + authentically market their work to exactly the people who need it.
I specialize in SEO and content marketing as ways to attract clients TO you. I'm extremely introverted, so I'm allll about the inbound marketing!

5 Ways to Find Space to Breathe as an Introvert in Business

Today’s post is from Kathryn Hall, who blogs over at The Business Introvert. She helps introverts escape the noise and run their business their own way, which is a topic very close to my heart. Kathryn contacted me a few months ago and we knew we had to connect. Even if you aren't an introvert, you may find her tips very useful.

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Let’s not beat about the bush. If you’re introverted then you need regular quiet time, there should be no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ about it.

Unlike our extrovert counterparts who thrive in social situations and lively work environments, our bodies have an inbuilt need for peace and quiet in order to function effectively. (I should know - I’m not sure that even a sliver of extroversion exists in me!)

And the truth is that as someone who’s highly introverted, alone time means so much more to me than simply re-charging my batteries and finding my energy (though of course that is hugely important).

Through the wonderful power of daydreaming and reflection (don’t you just love a bit of window gazing?) it’s also how I access the creative part of my brain, process the world around me to find clarity, and get my problem solving head on to come up with solutions – all of which is pretty important when you’re running a biz!

But of course we all know that being your own boss can also be hugely time-consuming. With (deep breath!) emails to respond to, blog posts to write, meetings to attend, paperwork to file, courses to write, clients to speak to, social media to schedule, accounts to sort out and graphics to create…how do you actually run a business as an introvert without completely losing your marbles?

Well, just as with anything, I believe it’s about taking positive action to shape your business to suit your own specific needs and desires. You are the boss after all!

Below I have compiled 5 tips to help you ditch the overwhelm, clear your schedule, and find that all-important space to breathe.

If you’re anything like me, your body, mind AND business will be truly thankful.

 

Don’t fill your schedule with meetings

As an introvert, working to a jam-packed schedule that involves meeting people all day every day is a one-way ticket to exhaustville.

If meeting people either face-to-face or via Skype forms a core part of how you run your business then I highly recommend you schedule meeting-free days to recharge your batteries, focus on other tasks and reflect on your business.

Similarly, setting yourself limits on how many people you see in a day/week can be really helpful and will help stop you feeling overwhelmed with everything that needs doing.

Change your business model

If you’re really struggling to cut down the amount of meetings that you have, then consider how you could change your business model to better suit your introverted needs.

For example raising your prices but working with less people would allow you to focus on providing a quality service for your customers while reducing the amount of meetings, sales chats and itty-bitty admin that needs to be done with each new client.

Alternatively you could also try cutting down your clients but supplementing your income with passive products such as online courses or e-books. Although these type of products still take a lot of marketing work, they do offer an amazing option for introverts who would rather spend time alone at home than getting ‘out there’.

 

Keep your notifications closed

One of the greatest things I ever did for my sanity was to take control of how I receive information from the big wide web.

Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the internet. My entire business is built upon it and I’m pretty sure I would not be my own boss had I been born 20 years earlier.

However (and this is really important), just because I’ve created a career that’s reliant on the web, doesn’t mean I need to be connected to it every single second of every single day.

If you spend your whole day with email and social media notifications popping up here, there and everywhere then you are essentially allowing other people’s agendas to take control of your own (which I’m sure you’ll agree is hardly the best way to create space in your schedule).

My advice to you is this. Keep your emails and social media notifications switched off until you actually have time to deal with whatever awaits you.

It’s such a simple change but it seriously can do wonders for how you spend your time.

 

Use the power of automation

Ah, automation, how I love thee.

A glorious bonus of the internet is that there are a whole wealth of tools out there to help you do all manner of things thus streamlining your business, saving you time and creating space for you to breathe.

What you can use is very much dependent on the type of business that you run, however a few popular tools include:

  • Freshbooks (for invoicing)
  • Calendly (for scheduling appointments)
  • Ejunkie (for delivering digital products)
  • Email filters (for automatically filing emails)
  • Mailchimp (for sending newsletters)

If you feel like you spend a lot of time on a particular part of your admin or marketing, then consider if there is a tool to help you (there’s nothing Aunty Google can’t help you with, remember!). And ultimately, the more efficient you can get your business processes, the easier things will be for you in the long run.

 

Get some help

And finally, remember that business doesn’t always have to be a one-man-band affair.

Hiring a virtual assistant or other professional even for an hour here or there can help massively in clearing your schedule and giving you some space to breathe.

From managing your accounts to marketing your business to answering your phone calls. Whatever you need a hand with, there will always be someone out there who can help.

So don’t try and do it all alone, get someone to share the load!

 

About Kathryn

kathryn hallKathryn Hall is founder of The Business of Introverts, an avid writer and mentor to quiet types across the globe who want to live happy, healthy and empowered lives. She’s big on helping people to embrace their introversion in all its glory, while creating a business they love.

Website // Twitter

Comment

Danielle Zeigler

I'm Danielle, an SEO and Digital Marketing Strategist on a mission to help creatives and entrepreneurs harness their strengths, personality, and energy to easily + authentically market their work to exactly the people who need it.
I specialize in SEO and content marketing as ways to attract clients TO you. I'm extremely introverted, so I'm allll about the inbound marketing!

Are You an Ambivert?

I'm a self-proclaimed introvert, and I love taking the personality tests associated with such a term. However, I've found myself wondering the same thing a lot of people do- "This question really depends on the situation." While I'm both shy and an introvert, if I am put in a small group situation having to do with work, I often become the leader. Does that have more to do with my Type-A personality (high stress, tendency toward perfectionism)? Probably. But from that alone, you can see there are a variety of aspects that play a part in how we act.

Recently, my brother-in-law sent me some information on Ambiverts. I hadn't heard the exact term, but had thought about the concept before and it makes a lot of sense. As Carl Jung, the founder of these concepts, says, "There's no such thing as a pure introvert or extrovert. Such a person would be in the lunatic asylum."

A few years ago, Psychological Science published a study that confirmed this middle-of-the-road personality type. When examining extrovert's and introvert's ability to close sales, they found those with equal traits did the best. This is good news for introverted entrepreneurs because you do need some sales ability, but you don't need to be an extrovert as often assumed. While being able to network like an extrovert has its advantages, the introvert is often the better listener and in turn, can really connect with a customer's needs. So you can see how having a mix of both would be highly beneficial.

This article, Ambiversion: The Lost Personality Type, by Mateo Sol, does a great job of exploring the alternative notion of Ambiverts. He states in his post,

"I believe thatpeople are simply more dynamically complex than the way we polarize ourselves. The most shameless of party-goers has his insecurities, and the quietest at work can be the wildest at night. Put simply, when we’re in a comfortable environment, we’re more likely to be ourselves.

The majority of us have traits of both personalities which are contextually driven. In other words, the majority of our behavior is a result of our interactions with a situation."

 
 

I think we all tend to gravitate toward one end of the spectrum, but that it does rely on the situation and our comfort level. After all, these two personality types are about energy. For an introvert, the situation will be much different if you're interacting with family than if you're interacting with a group of strangers. It seems to take less energy to interact if you're comfortable and can just be yourself. If you find yourself equally energized by quiet time and by interaction, you may be an ambivert.

What do you think? Are you an introvert, extrovert or ambivert; or does it rely solely on the situation for you?

2 Comments

Danielle Zeigler

I'm Danielle, an SEO and Digital Marketing Strategist on a mission to help creatives and entrepreneurs harness their strengths, personality, and energy to easily + authentically market their work to exactly the people who need it.
I specialize in SEO and content marketing as ways to attract clients TO you. I'm extremely introverted, so I'm allll about the inbound marketing!

The Ultimate List of Signs You Might be an Introvert

I'm all about harnessing and understanding your energy to make the most of your life and business. One of the easiest ways to understand how to maximize your energy is by understanding the difference between introverts and extroverts. Being introverted doesn't mean you're never outgoing or that you're anti-social. It just means you need alone time to recharge, i.e. get your energy from inner sources. Extroverts get energy from external sources. They both fall on a continuum, so you can probably have traits of both.

I've come across a bunch of great posts, both funny and serious, about being an introvert. I'm aware that some of these border on social anxiety, but sometimes they're pretty close.

Here's a collection of my favorite points and also some of my own additions and ideas from friends on Facebook:

1. Anticipating and engaging in small talk causes anxiety and often annoyance. Introverts are much better at deeper, more involved topics. This often leads people to call you intense.

2. Because of your aversion to small talk, networking is difficult and often makes you feel fake.

3. "We feel desperate or clingy when we ask someone to dinner, fake and slimy when we network, and self absorbed when filling in a distant friend on our lives." JoinBlush

4. You've been called too: intense, reserved, shy, in your own head, anti-social, quiet, in a shell.

5. A day of meetings, group work, networking, etc. leaves you completely drained.

6. Your best friend or partner is an extravert. They often compliment each other perfectly, as long as they understand each other.

7. "Now I'm going to choose a volunteer." This statement while attending a show, class, etc. creates instant panic.

8. A ringing phone creates anxiety, and it's rare for you to answer it. You'd rather call people when you're more prepared. "To me, a ringing phone is like having somebody jump out of a closet and go 'BOO!,'" says Dembling. "I do like having a long, nice phone call with a friend -- as long as it's not jumping out of the sky at me."  Huffington Post --- This is me exactly!

9. You have a constantly running inner monologue. “Extroverts don’t have the same internal talking as we do,” says Olsen Laney. Most introverts need to think first and talk later." Huffington Post

10. "You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s." Huffington Post

11. You're better at written communication than speaking because you need time to process what you're going to say.

12. You prefer working by yourself. You may excel in a profession such as writing, computer programming, graphic or web design, etc.

13. "You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity." Huffington Post

14. The idea of going out and being social after a work day is often overwhelming.

15. You aren't upset when a friend cancels plans. In fact, you're relieved.

16. You can be out having fun socializing but still thinking about the moment you get home and can crawl into bed and read.

17. You can have a great time "socializing" only to realize later you didn't say much at all.

18. You've napped in your car or eaten lunch in your car to get some time alone during a busy, social-heavy day.

19. You've felt "weird" or even hungover (exhausted) after too many social activities, even without drinking.

20. Working in an open office setting leaves you exhausted every evening. Working from home can be lonely, but you're able to focus better and get more work done, so you prefer this.

21. You dread Friday or Monday when people ask, "So what do you have planned this weekend?" and "What fun things did you do this weekend?"

21. The idea of staying in a shared dorm in college was scary.

23. Skipping work events or canceling plans feels relieving.

24. You've had to barter with yourself to go to a party. "I'll go for an hour," "I'll talk to 5 people," etc.

25. Related, you like going out, but tend to be one of the first to leave.

26. Also related, you're comfortable going out if you know you have an excuse to leave early if you need to.

27. You've run/hid/timed leaving your house because of chatty neighbors, even if you like your neighbors.

28. People point out when you get excited, raise your voice, show anger, etc. And this drives you crazy.

29. You've been accused of being "stuck up" because you're reserved or quiet.

30. Having people stay at your house is terrifying.

31. You haven't liked staying overnight at friend's houses since you were a small child.

32. People tell you to "smile more," constantly ask if you're okay and ask "why are you so quiet?"

33. People make you feel weird for doing things alone, like shopping.

34. You feel most comfortable in small groups, no more than about 4-5 people.

35. Surprises make you extremely anxious.

36. Seeing event photos all over social media makes you feel guilty or bad, but you still don't want to go. There's a definite societal pressure in the U.S. to be extroverted, and introverts are often made to feel guilty for being themselves.

37. "When we like something, we love it; when we don’t like something, we hate it." EliteDaily

38. "We don’t often let people in, but when we do, we open up like a book." EliteDaily

39. "We often get lost in our thoughts, even when someone is talking directly to us." EliteDaily

40. It's hard to remember names when first meeting someone because you're too focused on planning what to say.

41. You can be a great leader, but you prefer people who are self-starters and motivated.

42. You rarely raised your hand in class and were frustrated when class participation was part of the grade.

43. "You are capable of being bubbly, outgoing, and even effusively warm, but doing so completely exhausts you. You feel as though you have to switch on that side of your personality." Thought Catalog

44. You often pretend not to see someone you know to avoid conversation, by literally hiding or pretending to be suddenly very engaged with your smart phone.

45. You avoid Wal-Mart in your home town.

46. "You love meeting new people, but you definitely don’t love it as much as you tell people you do." Thought Catalog

47. You're very interested in psychology, sociology;  what makes people tick.

48. You love getting lost in the different world of books.

49. You eloped rather than having an elaborate wedding in front of people.

50. You don't cry in front of people, no matter how upset, because that would draw too much attention.

51. You take criticism a little more personally and harshly than others.

52. Friends often turn to you for advice or just to vent because they know you're a good listener and won't force your opinion on them.

53. You wear ear buds public so people aren't tempted to talk to you.

 

Sources, Inspiration + Introvert Related Articles: 23 Signs You're Secretly an Introvert How to Interact with the Introverted An Open Letter From Introverts 15 Signs You're an Introvert and Secretly Obsessed with it 10 Signs You're Secretly an Introvert

Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments.

6 Comments

Danielle Zeigler

I'm Danielle, an SEO and Digital Marketing Strategist on a mission to help creatives and entrepreneurs harness their strengths, personality, and energy to easily + authentically market their work to exactly the people who need it.
I specialize in SEO and content marketing as ways to attract clients TO you. I'm extremely introverted, so I'm allll about the inbound marketing!

How to Succeed as an Introverted Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship for introverts is one of my favorite topics. One-third to one-half of the US are introverts, but yet we're treated as though it's a disease to be cured. Growing up, introverts are told things like "come out of your shell" and "you're too quiet."

The easiest way to think of introversion vs. extroversion is to think about energy. Introverts get energy from spending time in quiet settings, often reflecting and focusing on their inner world. Extroverts get energy from other people. They focus more on the outer world.

Remember, introverted does not automatically mean shy. There are shy extroverts and outgoing introverts. AND it's all on a sliding scale. Some people are almost split 50/50.

The US generally values extroverts more than introverts, and public systems, like schools, often make introverts feel inadequate. The same often happens in an office environment. The most confident, outgoing + charismatic people tend to move up the ranks whether they do good work or not. Some companies are starting to use personality tests before hiring, which I think is a huge step in the right direction. There are positions for both extroverts and introverts in every company, and the company will work more smoothly if people are in roles that play to their strengths. Not to mention people will be more satisfied with their jobs.

everyone shines

Entrepreneurship can often seem like an extroverts game. With so much competition, it may seem like you have to connect with the most people and "yell the loudest" just to be heard. But I'm here to reassure you that you don't have to make cold calls, give speeches to millions or go to networking events 3 times a week to get clients. With up to half of the U.S. being introverted, your actions will be appreciated more than you realize.

So how can you succeed as an entrepreneur if you're introverted?

1. Know your limits to maximize your energy.

Introverts recharge by spending time alone. Make sure you're spending enough time recharging so you don't become burnt out. I work much better now that I'm in control of my environment. I found it hard to write when I was in an office setting because of the constant noise, interruptions and the amount of energy it took for me to interact with people for 8+ hours every day.

2. Customize your marketing strategy for YOU.

Blogging is a great way for introverts to show their expertise and experiences while still preserving their energy. Introverts tend to be better with written communication. I greatly prefer writing over speaking. Your marketing strategy may involve less approaching strangers and giving community talks and more guest blogging and podcasts. The internet opens up a world of possibilities for introverts (literally).

3. Lessen the pressure on yourself.

It's still important to connect with people, try new things and open yourself up to new opportunities, but if you feel less pressure, you'll be more receptive. Set a goal to attend one networking event each month, not each week.

The important point in all of these tips is to stop comparing yourself to extroverts (and everyone, for that matter). To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to understand yourself, utilize your strengths and let your true personality shine.

My quotes are all from Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. I highly recommend this book!

What has helped you succeed as an introverted entrepreneur? If haven't taken the plunge into entrepreneurship yet, what questions do you have?

3 Comments

Danielle Zeigler

I'm Danielle, an SEO and Digital Marketing Strategist on a mission to help creatives and entrepreneurs harness their strengths, personality, and energy to easily + authentically market their work to exactly the people who need it.
I specialize in SEO and content marketing as ways to attract clients TO you. I'm extremely introverted, so I'm allll about the inbound marketing!

Work-Life Balance: Finding a "Home-Base"

The idea of balance has been haunting me for a few years now. I tend to go from one extreme to another. I'll feel overwhelmed with too much work then bored with not enough. I'll feel anxious about socializing then feel very lonely. I'll feel very inspired and motivated then listless and lethargic.

I think it has to do more with understanding my personality and needs than it has to do with true "balance." I'm still learning how to manage my extremely introverted nature.

Work-life balance, and balance overall, is about balancing energy. But you have to know what truly drains you in more than just the physical sense.

Everyone's idea of balance is different. It is possible to work 60 hour weeks and still be happy or sacrifice money to work part time and be there for your family. You can think of it in terms of what's important to you, but that might get muddled by what you think SHOULD be important to you. Remove any guilt and really dig deep.

Does writing for your blog and inspiring clients make you come alive? Does the thought of a new book and a comfy night at home sound more appealing than a night out? Maybe you don't like the job you have during the day, but your side gig keeps you going. This is all okay.

Spend a week {at least} really paying attention to what gives you energy and what drains it. Make a list so you can consult it when you're starting to feel burnt out, frazzled and alone. It could be as simple as incorporating your favorite yoga class more often or scheduling in a night every week with friends.

Once you know what drains you and inspires you (gives you energy), come up with ideas and ways for you to return to your own personal "center."  Your life doesn't need to be balanced all the time. Just know when and how to return so you don't get burnt out. You'll create your best work when you know how to manage your energy.

How do you return to home-base and re-center yourself?