Is it important? Is it not? How do ‘ambiverts’ (neither introvert, nor extrovert) work on it? How do they manage to make people know about them or their services without going to people directly? Are there ways which can work for them instead of they working for the ways?
Yes there are.
But before we proceed further, I hope you do remember my earlier blog “The myth behind marketing” where I focused on “need based networking” (do networking when you need it). For those who are obsessed with networking and are blindly following it, I would highly recommend you to read this.
I still follow the advice which I gave in above blog. However, I am working on networking as much as I need it. I follow a pull strategy for networking too and here are 5 different ways on how I do it. For the introverts and the ambivert’s, try and see if these can help you 🙂
1. Be Curious
As a founder of multiple companies (Beyond Avg, Get You At, BAContentCreators), I am constantly involved in recruitment process and if there is one trait which I look forward to in a candidate, it is ‘curiosity‘. A curious mind will find the reason. But how does curiosity helps in networking? Let’s find out.
What do you do when you are curious?
You ask questions.
You want to know how things work? In order to know how things work, you would know what does the other person do? How does he do that? Where does he procures his material from? How does he differentiates himself from the market? You want to basically know how things happen. And mind you, this is not just about your industry. You should be curious to know about other industries as well.
Example: Right now you are reading a blog. You can be curious about how does the blogging industry work? How do bloggers earn money? Do they even earn? If they don’t, why do they write? If they do, how much? Is their time worth the awareness they get through the blogs they write? Do they write just because they like writing? and the list is endless. So how would you get to know more about blogging industry? Simple: Talk to a blogger.
Boom: You just built a connection.
Now replicate the process to any industry.
Even if you fail to build a connection, you get a vast amount of knowledge first hand about an industry and sometime the information helps you take better decisions in your job/business as well. Holistically, all are same. So the ground rules are same for all.
So am I asking you to gain knowledge about all the industries? Not at all. What I am asking is:
- Be curious about the industry you work in; AND
- Be curious about how things work in other industries. (can be selective here but don’t ignore)
2. Be a Listener
A topic on which renowned author’s have written books, can’t be listed in a single blog by me. So I would directly in connect it to how listening can help build a network.
Everybody has a story to share. Everybody loves a listener. All you need to do is, provide the person ample space and ask him right questions for the person to open up and share his learnings with you.
I would like to bring in notice that I am not talking about the emotional listening here. I am talking about when a person is talking about his profession, products, services ….listen to them. Not blindly but to the extent it provides value. Do not interject or deviate from the topic. When somebody is in flow, let the other person share his insights. Rather, soon you would be asking the right questions which would help you understand the industry better.
Once you do that, most of the time the other person would remember you because you took inclined interest in his industry. And there, you have built a connection.
3. Attend Seminar, Workshops & Conferences
Most of us know and attend a seminar to build network. I too have tried that. But what I have realised is, there are two kinds of people in seminars (when it comes to networking):
- The extroverts: Who would go and talk to anybody anywhere. They would not need an event for that. They excel at seminar’s and conferences. It’s like giving a smooth run way to a marathoner for running. They just run right from the 1st step and excel in it.
- The ambiverts/introverts: Who are there in the seminar to network but just like any other place, they cannot take the initiative to talk to someone. They enter the seminar alone, sit in a side chair, have the lunch alone and leave before the event ends with the hope that would work on it next time.
Now how do the such people build network in a seminar? Difficult. I too have faced the same and still face the same. Here are the ways which I have learned over experience (and through others in seminars):
- If you get an opportunity, speak. You may not be the best of speaker but incase anybody has introduced you to somebody, steal the chance and start taking interest (remember the point of curiosity).
- Ask questions. Most of the events have a QnA round. Feel free to ask the queries you have regarding the topic being discussed. Do not make it unnecessary but chances are you are there in the seminar to learn and explore new things about the particular industry, so you must be having queries. So ask. Don’t refrain yourself.
- Introduce yourself when you get an opportunity. One of the easiest way to grab an introduction opportunity is when you are asking questions. Before the question, you may simple say – “I am Ajay and I am a Digital Marketing Strategist. My question here is …….”. Did you notice? I made you aware about who I am and what do I do 🙂 How this helps is, if there is somebody in the audience who is looking for a digital marketing, chances are he may approach you. Job done.
- Avoid calls or phone. You may not be knowing anybody there. You may also be getting bored or feeling awkward while standing there alone. Yet, do not indulge unnecessarily on your phone. This may restrict somebody from approaching you assuming you are busy with some necessary stuff.
While the above are ways for somebody who is not much comfortable going and talking to people, you are always encouraged to be a public speaker and engage with people as much as you can (when necessary). Slowly and slowly, work on the habit.
Apart from this, another point which I would like to mention about such events is that most of us like to attend seminar of our industry (the industry which we operate into). My question is – why? Why not attend seminar of other industries as well. If well evaluated, there is no harm in doing so rather it is more beneficial.
The biggest benefit is the fact that you are not one among them. For example, when I am attending a digital marketing seminar, most of the people around me are from the same industry. But when I am attending an interior designing seminar, chances are I am the only one from my industry. And I immediately stand out. Job done.
4. Be serious about what you are doing
This is the most simple thing to do.
All you need to do is deep dive into your work, know your work, know your industry, feel for your industry. Be serious about it.
Have you noticed that whenever you meet a person who is serious about her industry, you get immersed in her talks and listen to her with open ears. Irrespective of the industry she is talking about, you like listening about it. Ever wondered, why does this happen? Because we love listening to people who are serious about their work.
We like their dedication towards the industry and get inspired by it. Not just it, next time whenever the industry is mentioned in any other discussion points, we recall that person immediately. Rather, mostly we even mention about her. Why does that happen? Because as human’s we like being the connector. We want to help people and it feels nice if somebody gets any help or connection through us.
Such is the power when you are serious about your industry or work. People like to talk about you and give your examples. And your network is growing, without you even knowing about it. Job done.
5. CHANGE if needed & GROW as it’s mandatory
Disclaimer: This point may hurt your emotional feelings.
While we have discussed about how to grow professional network, what about the time we spend with our friends? I am not against friendship but we need to understand that we are the average of 5 person we constantly stay with. So if your friends are not growing, chances are you too aren’t.
I am not asking you to choose your friends professionally or based on their success or growth rate. What I mean is, if some of your friends (no matter how close they are), are not growing, you need to take few steps. Which are:
- Talk to them a lot about growth. What is it that’s pausing their growth? Take them along you in growth path. Sometime all one needs is just a push. Be the push.
- Do not give up (neither on friendship, neither on growth). When you meet them, take their perspective on what are they exploring. This could be work, pleasure anything. But try to skip the mundane topics. You can talk politics, leadership, business or even childhood memories. Just be on a positive mindset and understand the different perspective.
- Do not hesitate to make new friends. While childhood friends are precious, nobody said you can’t make good friends post that. I have made good friends at almost all stages of my life (childhood, teenage, student, and even after 30+). While I do cherish the childhood relationships but I do not restrict myself for new relationships. Once you start looking with open mindset, you will see you get great friends at all ages. One of the biggest myth is you don’t find friends in office / professional life. Never believe this. Go to your office with an open mindset just as you entered your college. And you shall make friends instead of colleagues. More than 50% of my entertainment time goes with office friends. Plus, you have the benefit of making friends with somebody who can teach you something. People do not mind sharing. Why do you mind learning from friend?
All in all, above are the 5 ways which are helping me build the needed network. Incase you are struggling to build a network of your own, I can recommend you to try them. Hope you too can benefit.
Also, incase there are some ways which are helping you, feel free to mention in the comment section. Let us benefit from sharing 🙂