Networking is not for everyone but is a necessary skill for all small business owners. You may be thinking that this is a silly question to be asking. If you understand the importance of using your innate skills wisely, it is a question that needs to be asked.
Networking for people who do it innately just do it without thinking. They are extraverts, love people and enjoy being where the action is and it is done with ease. They are happy to small talk and have the ability to get information out of people without even realising that they are doing it.
On the other hand, networking can be a very difficult thing for a lot of people. For most introverts, it is a painful experience but there are some extroverts that find it hard as well. These people just do not like people all that much and are not comfortable in this type of environment. They find chit-chat and gossip unimportant and extremely boring. They are more comfortable in their own skin when they are alone.
If you are a solo entrepreneur who is an introvert or not comfortable networking, you need to be smart. By learning the necessary skills to become more relaxed in a networking situation, you will find that relationship building will become easier. Networking is vital for a business to grow today so the learning of correct skills for each personality type can make a big difference.
It is easiest for an introvert to be the first to arrive at a function so that they can set the space for themselves when other people enter the room. I often suggest to people who are uncomfortable in this situation to look for others who are just as uncomfortable. They will be happy to talk and be relieved to have someone else to support them. So, become the supporter for them and help yourself at the same time.
It is important for all business people to become aware that networking is an investment, not a nuisance, for your business growth.
If you have lots of contacts and you know lots of people, it will then be easier to find who and what you need. Without contacts, you will find it time wasting looking for the relevant information or people to give you what you want. Putting in the time to create your network, which does not have to be large, will pay off in the long run.
Be aware that if networking is a struggle in the beginning you may need to meet a lot of people … and maybe kiss a lot of frogs on the way! Once you find your correct niche market it will become easier and you will eventually find the people you like and want to have around you.
If meeting people is difficult for you it is important that you do not spend too much time going to networking events as the following up is the most important part when you are starting out. Go to one or two events a month and build on that until you become more comfortable. Over a year you will have built yourself a database of people who you will be able to support you to gain what needs you have in the marketplace.
Sometimes for people who do not like networking it is good to meet one or two people for lunch or drinks rather than at an event with lots of attendees. This gives you the opportunity to get to know people better in a more comfortable setting. Discuss things that you like eg hobbies, golf or fishing, what they do for fun etc. Ask them these questions to find out if you have any synergy away from the business environment.
If you do not like networking more than likely you are intuitive and analytical. So, analyse your results. What is working, what is not and where do you get the best results from the money you are spending.
Networking is not something people should do for the sake of doing it, if they are smart. It is important you have a goal for every event you go to. It is not all about just meeting new people, it is about finding the people who are the best fit for you and your business. It is also important that you can support them too as you may have resources or contacts that are important to them.