“Don’t think of it as networking; think of it as seeking out kindred spirits.” - Susan Cain

A very hot topic with my clients lately has been networking. Particularly with those who consider themselves to be an introvert. If you are not sure if you are an extrovert, introvert or ambivert (me!), I highly recommend taking Daniel Pink’s free online assessment here.

If it ends up that you are an introvert and the very idea of networking makes you run screaming to your room to crawl under the covers, I want to provide some guidance on how to make it work for you.

I believe so much in networking that it is one of my main priorities in terms of my time spent. Does this mean that it is easy for me? No. Like you, I would rather be curled up on the couch with my husband while watching an episode of “Homeland” or “Scandal” after a long day.  The last thing I want to do is get in the car, walk in to a room full of people I don’t know and make awkward small talk.

The reason I do it three or four times per month is because I have seen the value in it each and every time. It is all a part of building community, exposing myself to new ways of doing things, meeting people who inspire me and building my personal brand. And I rarely, if ever, regret going.

But what if it feels just too hard to do networking the way I’m talking about? How you can achieve the same results without putting on a name tag and handing out business cards to people you don’t know?

Here are five effective networking tips for introverts:

1.  Embrace Consistency

One of the easiest ways to build community and your network is to show up to the same place consistently each day/week. Do you get a coffee every morning? Try going at the same time everyday where the familiarity of seeing the same people will start with a familiar smile, then turn into polite conversation about current events or the weather, and eventually turn into a relationship.

2.  Get Moving

There is nothing that builds community like sweating together. I believe it is one of the easiest and fastest ways to meet like minded people. Check out Basic Training, which combines great workouts with fun happy hours.

3.  Follow Your Friends

I subscribe to Eventbritewhich sends me a weekly email telling me which of my Facebook friends are going to which event. Knowing that I will know one person often helps me to have that anchor when I attend different events.

4.  Tweet Away

I have made so many wonderful friends via Twitter. How? Many different ways, but some ideas are:

  • Tweet using the event hashtag to meet other attendees without leaving your seat
  • Engage in conversation with people on Twitter who have common interests, retweet their tweets, respond to theirs, share their blog posts, etc.

5.  Volunteer

Using your time and talents to help others is a great way to meet like-minded people who share common interests and values. It provides a great structured environment to do good and build your network along the way. I love Hands On Bay Area to find volunteer opportunities.

This article was originally published on Suzannah Scully.

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