Being an introvert and starting a conversation or networking with strangers is never on the introvert’s favourite activity list. And yet no real connection can be started, no relationship can be built without doing it first.
Networking is one of the most critical activities business leaders need to do to be successful. It comes naturally to extroverted personalities because they thrive on such activities. However, if you are an introvert or even an ambivert like me, this can feel quite a draining chore.
Because as Dr. Laurie Helgoe points out in Introvert Power:
“Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people. We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”
Introverts love building more intimate connections with people as opposed to just going through several surface encounters that never go more in-depth. When two people get stuck in small talk mode, they don’t learn anything new about each other, and that is draining.
However, here is the thing, to be successful in business or career, we need to connect with people on a deeper level anyways. Small talk isn’t enough. So, our need to create strong connections, and with that meaningful relationships will help us be successful.
And it definitely can be done. Just take a look at my list of the successful introverted leaders that is by no means exclusive: JK Rowling, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marissa Meyer, Warren Buffet, Barack Obama, or Bill Gates.
So now I hear you say: Maggie, it’s easier said than done. I get it. On the one hand, it’s not that difficult to go deeper once you got to know the other person a bit and are comfortable with them. But on the other hand, the problem question is: how do I carry the first conversation even to get the possibility of creating a connection?
Here are 5 winning tactics that will help you do just that.
1. Ask Open-Ended Questions
The truth is that you don’t need to do small talk at all. There is a myriad of questions you can use not only to start the conversation without being too intrusive but also find out something meaningful about the person you are talking to.
For example: “What was the best part of your weekend”? as opposed to “How was your weekend”?
To give you some ideas and help you start meaningful conversations, I have prepared a list of 50 questions. Click here to receive it.
2. Go With the Flow
You don’t need to prepare a list of questions trying to ask them all to one person. As you start the conversation, go with the flow. Use your instinct to connect and go deeper into the conversation naturally.
3. Be Present When Listening
Listening comes easy to introverts. However, ensure you are being present and genuinely listen without drifting off in other thoughts. Because we can listen to approximately 500 words per minute and speak only 225, it’s easy to get distracted when listening to others. Make a conscious then effort to be present during any conversation and listen to understand not to reply.
4. Make It All About the Speaker
Another easy thing to do if you aren’t an extrovert. We don’t like to be the centre of attention anyways. Making it all about the speaker will make them feel valued, which will build trust between you much faster.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”Dale Carnegie
5. Share Details About Yourself
As much as you should make it all about the other person, it still takes two people to be part of a conversation. As tricky as this step may be, sharing some meaningful details about yourself will show you trust the other person and send a signal that you like them as well. And don’t worry about speaking too much. There is no need to go into the weeds. Being brief is perfect!
In summary, meeting new people and building meaningful connections with them is not only necessary for business success but also truly enriches our experience as human beings. We can learn so much from others, be amazed and inspired by their stories. As Alfred Tennyson, British 19th century poet, wrote: “I am a part of all that I have met.”
Having read this short guide, do you think you’re more willing now to go out there and network? Or do you need more encouragement? If the latter, click here to read my last week’s post on taking action. I know I will help you!
Lastly, before you go I wanted to share that in my July newsletter I’m including not only the list of 50 Questions to Start Meaningful Conversations but also a few other great resources!
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