Introverts—Optimize Your Strengths to Grow Your Business Through Networking


By Andy Smith


If you’re a small business owner or solopreneur who identifies as an “Introvert,” aping the personality, sales, and marketing techniques of extroverts doesn’t work, especially in the long-term. 

Instead, learn to understand the strengths of your personality type to develop prospects. Introvert strengths include insight, empathy, listening skills, a gift for analysis, and consistent follow-through. 

If you fit the introvert profile, you can still make Small Business Expo’s B2B trade shows and networking events work for you. It’s a tortoise-and-hare scenario. Though you might not dazzle them at first, you can still make essential “first contact” with strong prospects and then convert them into loyal clients through substance, reliability, and commitment to customer service. 

Susanne Kennedy, founder of Networking for Introverts, works with individuals and teams as a coach, as well as leading classes and seminars to help introverts optimize their strengths, work around their challenges, and learn to cultivate strong relationships. 

She offers useful thumbnail definitions of introvert and extrovert.  “The true definition of an introvert is someone who recharges by being alone. They’re drained by being with too many people for too long. On the other hand, extroverts are drained by being alone too much. A true extrovert enjoys parties, noisy bars, concerts.” 

5 Ways Introverts Can Win Through Networking 

While extroverts may charm new contacts and promise the moon, introverts are usually the ones who deliver. “They’re fantastic listeners and their responses tend to be more thoughtful because they’re taking information in and processing it. They take in more than they put out. Extroverts may not remember important aspects of conversations as well,” Kennedy says, describing their strengths. 

She offers specific business-building suggestions for the shy and self-reflective among us:

1.Don’t try to network 24/7. Be selective. “The first thing I would say is to be very selective about where and when to network. You don’t’ have to do everything. Pick events where you know the people attending will be part of your target market. The point is a lot of people think they must do everything. It’s better to be selective. Think of it as ‘bang for your buck’ timewise, dollarwise and recovery wise.”

2.  Set Goals for Events. For introverts, it’s vital to go to a networking event with a goal in mind. For example, my goal usually is to find three people I can help somehow. It doesn’t have to be with my service. I might be able to help them by connecting them to another person or resource. This helps take the pressure off, because it makes things less about me, and more about accomplishing something. 

3.  The Gold is in the follow-up. The real key is what you do after the event, because, until you follow up with the prospect and fulfill any promises you’ve made, you haven’t really accomplished anything and the relationship doesn’t progress.

4.  Invest time in higher level relationships. Rather than constantly looking for new contacts, enrich the relationships you already have. 

5.  Cultivate Peer Teams. “Work with complementary colleagues that touch the same market to collaborate and market your services together.” Examples include writers & designers, realtors & mortgage brokers, insurance agents & appraisers.   

Finally, Kennedy recommends that introverts seek out groups like daytime Chamber of Commerce Meetings (rather than nighttime mixers) and BNI (Business Networking International), both of which emphasize referrals and follow-up, as well as structure, agendas, and designated times to speak, with minimal interruptions.