While the industry has made it relatively easy to network with a slew of events dedicated just to the idea, it is up to you to make the most of these opportunities. Being the wallflower at a networking event can limit your chances to meet new people and find that one gem that will help your business grow.
Below, seven members of YEC Next share the one way you can proactively work to build meaningful business relationships if you are naturally shy or if you aren’t used to reaching our or going up to people. Here’s what they had to say:
Startup founders on how to build meaningful business relationships.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS.
1. Understand The Power Of Listening
I always encourage people to be themselves and not try to become someone else, because that will always come across as disingenuous. You do, however, need to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. For extreme extroverts, they generally need to learn to speak less and listen more so that they do not annoy potential business relationships. An introvert, in contrast, will need to push themselves to be a bit more assertive and to reach out to talk to someone in a social setting. When doing that, however, you don’t need to turn into a super-gregarious person, you just need to have genuine conversations and use the incredible gift you possess -- listening. People are naturally attracted to people who actively listen to them. What you perceive to be a weakness is actually a strength. - Ryan Meghdies, Tastic Marketing
2. Take The Conversation To Social Media
Being introverted or shy doesn't have to hold back a business owner. Advancements in technology and social media allow us to build and maintain relationships with very little hassle. Connecting with others on social media platforms is arguably easier than in person. Mediums like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and so many others, provide access to endless amounts of businesses and individuals who are equally eager to connect. Make initial contact online, and once you’re comfortable, reach out over the phone, or schedule a meeting. Otherwise, challenge yourself to be better than your weaknesses. Make a habit of conquering your fears, and soon you’ll question what it was you were afraid of in the first place. Remind yourself that your business deserves to be seen by others. - Bryan Driscoll, Think Big Marketing, LLC
3. Grow Relationships Online
I rarely attend networking events, but have done most of my significant relationship building online. I'll comment on an insightful blog post, or respond to someone's tweet, and build a connection from there. In some cases, when I see a natural affinity between a company and my content marketing agency, I'll reach out with a short but well-targeted intro letter, and invite them to speak by phone. And when I do attend in-person networking events, I often keep the conversation short and sweet, but make sure to get a business card. That way, I can reach out to the individual afterward to continue the conversation via email, taking the time to come up with something thoughtful to say -- the ideal conversation method for introverts like myself. - Kathryn Hawkins, Eucalypt Media
4. Take Your Time And Each Person Individually
It's a common misconception that entrepreneurs are all extrovert, outgoing and confident individuals. The majority of successful entrepreneurs I've met have been introverted. The most confidence are likely to go and try to lead the crowd in traditional careers. For introverts, finding yourself in the periphery, taking a roundabout route, pushing yourself out into a space that doesn't feel comfortable are all second nature and what entrepreneurs must do to succeed in any industry. Introverts also tend to be very good with people, as they will watch first and act on what they have observed. So in building meaningful business relationships, natural introverts should work to their strengths: take their time and each person individually, listen and react. - Tom Chalmers, Legend Times Group
5. Nurture Second-Degree Connections
We all know many people through parties, previous schools, previous jobs, and common friends with whom meaningful business relationships could be built. Particularly for shy people, it might be best to explore this extended network. In addition, use LinkedIn -- sending a brief and well-crafted message is a lot less intimidating than walking up to someone and initiating a conversation. It works the same way a pick-up line does though: it has to be crafted well and use the minimum possible number of words to introduce yourself and generate interest. - Shan Rizvi, Just Ads
6. Publish Your Expertise
To get found and build relationships, you need to put yourself out there and have conversations in some form. By using a blog on your website to publish your expertise on all the questions and conversations that you have with prospects, you'll be in a more comfortable setting than one-on-one "extrovert" activities, plus you'll be able to scale your communication now that you have an evergreen article you can share as much as you need to. This will also help increase your visibility in search engines and give you content to share on social media and with your email subscribers. - Todd Giannattasio, Tresnic Media
7. Get Used To Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone
I was one of the shiest students from my class in high school. Approaching new people and public speaking scared me more than probably anything else. Fast forward to today -- I have no problems with meeting new people and really enjoy being on the stage speaking in front of others. We all have our own comfort zone and it hurts to get out of it. For many, meeting new people is way out of the comfort zone. The leap is just too big to take it. Instead of taking the leap, which could feel like being overdosed, I learned to get outside of my comfort zone. I took it step by step and did small things. I soon realized that they weren't as bad as I thought and it was only my perception of things. I started thinking of it as a game. And in a game, you have to fail before you win. - Milan Steskal, Mentegram
Image Credit: All photos courtesy of individual members.
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