Business Networking Tips (Even For Introverts)

As professionals in the workforce or as business owners, it is very important to meet new people day in and day out. Whether you strike up a conversation with your hair stylist or go to a local networking event, these conversations and connections you meet may someday make a difference when you’re in need or vice versa. Here are tips on how to be a business networking professional, even if you’re an introvert.

Get in touch with someone you have not talked to in awhile just to say hello. Join an association or group focused on the industry or network you would like to be a part of, then attend their meetings and get involved. Utilize social media and the network you already have to find out about events with people you want to work with – happy hours, parties, golf tournaments, whatever. Find a cause you are passionate about and volunteer. Last but not least, make sure your friends and family members know what it is you need. These are the people who most want to see you succeed. They can’t help if you don’t voice what it is you are looking for. You never know who might be in their network. – Dayna Steele of Your Daily Success Tip

A few tips I’ve learned during the 8 years I’ve been in business are to be interested in other people! People will know if you’re just trying to use them or if you’re genuinely interested in what they do and what they have to say. While networking, be sure to wear a jacket that has pockets on both sides. Keep your business cards in the right side, where they’re easily available. If after completing suggestion above and you find yourself in a conversation that doesn’t seem to have an end, you can politely excuse yourself to use the restroom. This prevents any hurt feelings or rudeness. – Valarie Moody of myfraimz

Rather than trying to meet as many people as possible, focus on really engaging with a couple of people and have a “host mentality.” That means making others feel comfortable just as you would if they were at a gathering in your home. Once I’ve struck up a conversation with someone I like to ask (before I tell them about myself): “How would I know if someone I meet would be a good fit for you and your business?” This usually takes people by surprise because they are so used to the other person promoting themselves! – Karen of  Karen Dodd

I think in the beginning, the best networking events are the ones that bring people together across disciplines and areas of interest. By this I mean attending a chamber event instead of just a networking event for realtors. Follow-up is critical and should be done as soon as possible- even during some down time at the event from your mobile device if possible. They must send the follow-up within 48 hours of attending the event, The trick, though, is to reach out to the organizer of the event and let them know that this will be your first visit at an event of this kind. This creates an ally for you and that takes the burden off of you (at least at first) in introducing yourself to others at the event. – LaTanya White of Concept Creative Group

Be very short and sweet. That means that from the time you start introducing yourself to the time you stop and allow the other person to start talking, there should not be more than a twenty second gap. Short and sweet arouses curiosity so they listen for more. Be captivating means you have their attention so think about an angle that you can take about your life, your work that makes you memorable, and helps you stand out among the sea of other people in the same field. Be prepared how you will introduce yourself and talk about your work and your life but don’t come across as though you memorized it. Be clear, you don’t want to be clever here and vague and have people wonder quietly. Never use acronyms and be creative. Think about what it is that you do and then package it differently, then share that when you network. – Farnoosh of Prolific Living Inc.

I have been utilizing networking for my businesses for the past 18+ years and here are my 3 tips: Follow up immediately after the event. As soon as I’m back in my office I will send a quick email stating, what I liked about the event, referencing something the contact and I spoke about and if appropriate an invitation for a meeting. When someone sends me an email after an event then I follow up immediately. Act like the event is your event. So when someone is being a wallflower, make eye contact and start a conversation. – Ceri Ruenheck of Its Your Call

Become a connector. Even if you’re attending your first networking event, you can leave a lasting impression by becoming a “connector.” Fake it, ’til you make it. Think of the event as a party that you’re hosting and your job is to introduce the guests that don’t know each other. You’re one of them, so start with you. Before you go, find out who you want to meet by checking the attendee list. Connect with the leader of the group, share who your ideal client is and ask who would be a good connection for you. If you have a blog, or read one, that offers relevant content and expertise, share it on the FB event page or with the group via a tweet. You’ll be the “star of the show” before you even walk in the door. – Lynn Bardowski of Million Dollar Party Girl

Make sure to be active on LinkedIn. Join groups such as your alumni association and former/current employers. When connecting with someone, revise the automatic email to make it a personal one. Have targeted keywords in your profile so if someone is searching for a “writer,” for example, they will find you. Also, endorse others as you see fit and take time to comment on their successes. Staying active on LinkedIn is a fantastic way to network. – Chelsea of Flex Jobs

Networking can happen anywhere although the traditional areas are small business association events, local womens’ or mens’ entrepreneur groups, specific trade association functions, and dinner/lunch meetings within the same industry. However, I found that some of my best contacts were born just by regular, everyday events, such as meeting strangers in a restaurant. To break the ice, equip yourself with plenty of business cards, think up a quick introduction sentence to use, and always be polite and friendly. You definitely don’t want to turn somebody off by overstaying your welcome. I force myself to talk and introduce myself to seven different people outside my industry before I leave. – Caroline Fielding of Bus Rage App

Conferences are shotgun networking. Cold calling and emailing is sniper networking. Be the first or last person to talk to the person you want to meet. Come up with an interesting and specific question and then ask them before they leave. Talk about non business things at business networking events, and business when you are not in a business environment. Use Boomerang to follow up withe people. If they don’t respond to your email, it will remind you in 2 hours or 2 days or 2 weeks depending on what you tell it to do. Be persistent. If you are sending cold emails make sure you follow up at least once or twice after you initial message if you don’t get a response. Rapportive for Gmail gives you all the social information publicly available on the web on anybody you have the email address of. – Tim Kenny of  Timothy Kenny

First of all, a person should care about how he or she looks. The crucial factor is still confidence, the very ability of a person to present himself or herself. Then, the ability to socialize is well combined with self-development. To sum up, it’s necessary to mention that only lazy bones stay horribly shy. Who can work hard, can reach all the social prospects – PJ of Third Circle Theory & Secret Academy

When one wants to maximize success at networking one must have a plan. Set a goal before every event with an objective for that event. At networking events, people often make the mistake that this is a time to sell. Networking events create visibility for you and your company. Don’t sell your product or service. Tell your story. Write a detail about each person you meet on their business card, before you drive away from the event. Follow up within 24 hours with a hand written note. Answer your phone, answer emails and schedule time with those people who thank you for sending the card. Remember before you do business, there must be visibility and credibility. Look first to understand, then be understood. Revenue will follow. – Jodi Scholes from Business of Body Work

Whether you’re connecting with someone in-person at an event, just met them online through a business group or are pursuing a potential business lead, social media should be a part of your network strategy. It’s also a great way to keep up with what they are doing and be a regular part of their world through online interaction. There are tools you can use to make this process easier as well; I use, which integrates with your email platform to show you where your email contacts are online and allows you to effortlessly follow them on those platforms. – Kate Finley of Integrated Marketing Communications

I’m curious about people in general. I like to know what they’re doing (and even more so) WHY they’re doing it. What about them (their talents, background, interests, etc.) led them to the career they’re doing. When I’m networking I try to make it a point to make it about the other person. Usually when you can get them to open up about what they’re all about, there’s a good chance of success. Whenever I can connect anyone to someone else, I also feel that is a good rule of thumb. Of course, this is done with no expectations or need for reciprocity. But good karma comes back around, and then you’ve strengthened your network even further because you’ve not only personally connected with them, but helped them connect with someone you know.- Lindsay Anvik of See Endless

Focus on attending smaller, more intimate events especially if you’re shy. Quality trumps quantity. It’s about connecting to people not collecting as many business cards as possible. Networking doesn’t just happen at “networking events”. Join your local chamber of commerce, volunteer, sign up for a local book club, where there’s practically a group for every possible interest. Make sure when introducing yourself you say your name loud enough and slowly, Know your purpose before you walk into an event. Ask open-ended questions as opposed to questions that can be answered “yes” or “no” to encourage conversation. Arrive on time, tell what what you actually do rather than your job title. A handwritten note if you have the time is a great way to follow up and add value, do what you say you will. – Jenny Powers of Running With Heels

If someone does hand over their card to you, do not interpret this an invitation to phone them.  Email is the best bet. You can increase the chances of your message getting opened and read by telling them you’ll be sending it. A cool tactic is to drop off custom, beautifully printed material (with a personal note) to their company receptionist. The receptionist will pass on the papers and mention the fact that, unusually, you actually turned up to it drop off. – Peter Shallard from The Shrink for Entrepreneurs

I have noticed that more serious networking occurs over breakfast. Lunch networking events can be hit and miss because people often get stuck at work, in meetings or forget. After work networking has a tendency to become more social than professional because most people are spent from their day at work and prefer to unwind, However, people who are serious about building business connections come out for breakfast. Their minds are more focused on what you are saying and they are able to go back to their office and process any necessary follow up. – LaKesha of Womack Consulting Group

Try to find out who is going beforehand either through searching on Facebook, Twitter, or an RSVP list. If there is somebody that you want to speak with, comment on something noticeable, as a way to casually break the ice and begin a conversation. Without question, ALWAYS ask for a business card and if they do not have one, give them yours and ask them to write down their information for you. Try to always follow up through social media, people like to feel appreciated in a public way, include in your e-mail something specific about your conversation so that they remember you. – Fayne Cohen of Wheels for Meals Ride

It really depends on your comfort level. If you don’t like big crowds, I would suggest joining a lunch group that discusses topics that you are interested in. I would also recommend networking with small groups outside of your profession and meeting people with a similar interest. If you go to a large event, I would suggest setting a goal of how many people you would like to meet. Stay away from religion and politics. I’ve met some introvert folks and the best way to meet other people is to pair up with someone that you that will introduce you to other people. If you had a good conversation, then you can also send a message on LinkedIn and connect with them. I would write a short note on how you met and something you talked about, so it can help jog their memory.- Sabrina Kidwai of ASAE

The most important lesson I’ve learned in networking (which I’d wish I’d known years ago) is to take every advantage possible to meet new people. Efficiently communicating and never dismissing a single soul — you never know who you’re talking to, who they might know or how they’d be able to contribute. I find it wise to do your homework, in advance. Understand everyone is there for a similar reason and for the most part want to make new connections, so don’t be shy; just walk up and introduce yourself, the only thing you have to lose is an opportunity. – Lori Cheek of Cheekd

Don’t feel awkward if you stand by yourself for a moment. Having others approach you gives you the power to accept the conversation or not. Share something personal, but not too personal. Introduce strangers to people you know. The best networkers aren’t about networking for themselves, but about building a bigger network. When you introduce two people, you’ll often learn things about someone you know that they wouldn’t think to share with you. – Stafford Kendall of Covalent Logic