I know what you’re thinking. Networking for introverts does not exist. False!
One thing I’ve learned from life is that people will tell you there’s only one route to take to get to your end goal. And that is a lie. The truth is that, while there are certain things you will have to do to reach your goal, you can tailor that path to your liking.
Make your work work for you!
Networking is one of those inevitables. If you want to be successful, if you want what you create to get a fair shot, it’s essential that you network. However, it is not totally necessary to network in the traditional sense of going to a mixer and passing out business cards.
Did your ears perk up just now? That’s right, there are ways for introverts to network without having panic attacks!
So let’s get into it.
The internet—ever heard of it? The internet is your friend! And with many different channels to connect with people in very niche groups, what a great way to interact with like-minded people without the anxiety of awkward eye contact with a stranger. It can be used entirely for your network, as a primer to get you comfortable enough to go to an in-person event, or as a final tool to follow up with those who you’ve met in person.
Another great use of the internet for networking is finding like-minded creatives to collaborate with. Interact with people whose work you like. Let them know you appreciate what they do—we often focus on how much praise we receive, and neglect paying praise to others! Establish a connection with the people you admire. Form bonds with them, and you are 100 times more likely to end up working with them in the future. We’ll talk more about collaboration in a future post all about it but for now, focus on putting yourself out there and really nurturing those connections.
The channels you choose to use to interact with other creatives will vary depending on how you create, but it’s generally a good idea to go outside of your usual media. Don’t stray too far, but if you podcast, for example, interacting with vloggers is still within your audience realm. Make sure you’re going outside of your bubble, because interacting and collaborating with creatives in other media will really help with expanding your visibility and your audience.
It’s worth noting that a face-to-face interaction will always create the most lasting impact, so if you can use the internet to get acquainted before meeting in-person or chatting on the phone, that will be your best route. However, if your anxiety is truly so bad that in-person makes you hyperventilate, make that phone call your goal to work toward, and personalize your internet messages as much as possible.
I hope these tips help you get out of your shell a little in a way that doesn’t totally shell shock you!