Networking Tips for the Introverted Business Leader

Women are always at the front of revolutions.
— Buthayna Kamel, Egypt's 1st female presidential candidiate

I began this post with the quote from Buthayna Kamel because the end of prohibition is a modern day revolution that many activists and advocates have been fighting for for decades. Many of these unsung heros are men but so many of them are women and it is because of these women that an endeavor such as The Her(B) Life could even be possible and it's important that we acknowledge the sacrifices that others have made. Now what does any of that have to do with networking? 

Nothing, but it does segue nicely into my next point which is:

Community is key.

Support and encouragement, not to mention referrals, are critical to success in business of any kind. Appreciating and acknowledging the community in which you are doing business is good business. Far too often I meet people who tell me how excited they are to participate in the legal cannabis market and yet they can't tell me the names of three influential women who worked to make this opportunity a reality.

We are not alone (no matter how fervently we may wish to be!) 

In business it is important to know who else is operating in your space. Know the names of the major players, the next big thing, the wonder kid who raised a billion dollars, your competitors and your potential partners. You should make an effort to learn about who else is in your space and what they are doing and with whom. You can use the internet for this, do some stealth tracking and investigating but you should also get out there and meet people. 

Is there an association you could join? 

A board or task force that you could volunteer for?

Do you go to conferences?

Those are all opportunities to get to know your peers. I highly suggest you take the time to shake some hands and hand out some business cards. 

Networking and Mastermind Groups

We will get further together than we will apart. Find a support system that you can rely on for inspiration and motivation - not to mention encouragement and referrals!

There are lots of ways to find your group; Try a Master Mind group, your local chamber of commerce or networking organizations.

My personal favourite is Women Grow, and I highly recommend you check it out! Women Grow Networking Events connect aspiring and current professionals in the cannabis industry. Through monthly events and professional speakers, members develop authentic relationships via personal contact and networking.  While the events are women focused, the networking series attracts both men and women to connect. 

Are you shaking your head and thinking to yourself: But I don't have time for networking... If you are, you need to make time. Invest in yourself professionally and reap the rewards of getting to know other people who might be able to help further your career. I've gotten new clients, accounts and even jobs based on the strength of my network and I am a confirmed introvert who would much rather be watching Netflix. I will share with you some of my best tips for networking like a pro even though I'd rather be in my jammies hiding from the world. 

Introvert's Tips for Networking

  1. Beyonce. Or Sia, or Katy perry or any other musician that you admire who can get your butt shaking. Play some loud, proud boss lady music on your way to the event. Get your adrenaline pumping in a way thats not scaring the bejesus out of you so that when you arrive you're in a fun, vivacious and charming mood.
  2. Bring a friend. Note the caveat: The friend should be in the business. This is after all, a professional event not a frat party so your wingman should be focused on upping your professional game. If you have a trusted buddy there you'll be calmer and confident and if you don't manage to snag someone new in a conversation your friend may be able to. Teamwork! 
  3. Have a goal. Give yourself a goal to achieve such as shake hands with three new people or reconnect with Jane from That Awesome Company you would love to do a promo with. When you have a goal to work towards it can be easier to manage the crowd - plus, once you've achieved that goal you can leave guilt free! 
  4. Have a plan.  If you know who is going to be there ahead of time you can approach people strategically. You can do some homework beforehand and arrive prepared to congratulate Jane from That Awesome Company on her latest product launch. 
  5. Ask questions. People love to talk to about themselves and their projects so let them. In fact you'll likely endear yourself to them if you show them how interested you are in what they've got going on. After all, you'll never make friends if you just talk about yourself so give yourself a break, drop the pitch and get to know someone else for a bit.
  6. Practice. This is going to sound silly but it's worth it: Practice chatting and making small talk. You'll get better at it and you'll feel way less weird when the big day comes. Spend some time standing in front of the mirror being charming. Check to make sure that your smile is genuine not forced, watch yourself for body language faux pas and adjust accordingly. When you look good, you feel good and when you feel good you perform like a star! 
  7. Smile. When you can't think of anything else to do or say, flash those pearly whites. Smiling is a great way to put others at ease and give them the chance to ask you some questions!