How to Network: 13 Tips for Introverts [& Those Who Hate Networking!]

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Networking literally build my business. So it might surprise you when I say that I HATE networking. Yes, it’s true.

But it allowed me to quit a decent paying job, and start my own business that’s still profitable almost 2 years later… so I keep going. I’ve met people who have turned into clients, but also those who have referred clients to me – just by networking.

In fact, although I run Facebook ads and Google ads for other small business owners, I have yet to spend money on marketing my marketing business. Which may sound kind of weird, but I actually look at that as having a very strong starting foundation for my business.

I know that I’m going to need to look outside of my referral network once I started growing faster, but for now it’s provided me with a steady stream of clients.

The best part is, while my referral network was built through networking, I can also go out and get new clients by networking as well.

Networking is just a big giving circle if you ask me.

The funny thing is…I hate networking. And I’m also an introvert. So how have I been able to make this work?

I’m going to lay out my strategy along with some tips for you here.

But first, go ahead and grab the Networking Toolkit below and let’s get started.

What is Networking

When most people think of networking, they think it’s this slimy, self-serving thing you do that consists of going to a boring event, handing out a ton of business cards, and going home exhausted.


Networking is going out to events with the intention of just being you and hopefully meeting some cool people.

At least that’s how I frame it in my head. I don’t go into it with a goal of meeting as many people as possible, it only takes meeting that one person to change things for you.

If I went into each event with the idea that I was going to hand out 25 business cards, I’d never go. Can you imagine meeting 25 people during a 60-90 minutes event? That’s like 2-3 minutes with each person, no bathroom or water breaks.

No thanks.

I only bring about 5-10 cards because I know I’ll never hand out that many. My goal is always to just be me and talk to a few people.

The Benefits of Networking

Okay, so if networking isn’t about meeting the most people and handing out the most business cards, what’s the point?

Well, for starters, relationships are everything.

Networking is a great way to meet people and build relationships. Is it the only way? No of course not. But it’s easier since all of the people at these events are (generally) looking to meet more people as well.

Others just come for the free beer and food, which is okay, but most want to meet you.

  • If you’re looking for new clients, networking can help you find people who will refer clients to you.
  • If you’re looking for a new position, you can probably find someone who knows someone who is hiring.
  • If you need to find a vendor who provides X, Y, or Z and is the best at it, networking will help you find someone who’s already done the heavy lifting before and can give you a shortcut.
  • If you’re looking to find people to start a mastermind with, you can find them through networking.
  • If you’re looking for a business partner, networking is definitely a great place to get started in your search.

Now, I want to be super clear. Networking is NOT a short cut. Yes, it’s extremely beneficial, and yes it will help you down the line, but networking does not mean you will leave an event with 3 new clients.

Sure, it happens very occasionally, but most of the time it will takes months before you see the benefits of networking start to play out.

I’ve met people who have turned into clients 9-12 months after meeting them at an event. If you’re someone who only does ROI positive things, and you can’t be open to waiting a few months to see returns, this is not for you.

Going to events and meeting people is like slowly building a bridge, that is extremely stable, but again, very slow to get built. Trust me, it’s so worth it.

How to Find Networking Events

There are some easy ways to find networking events and conferences near you or that interest you. Events

Meetup is the online source I’ve used most often to find networking groups. There are literally groups for anything.

These don’t have to be groups based solely around your business or career, you can find book clubs, hiking groups, travel groups, singles groups, etc.

networking meetup

Once you sign up, you can check out events and groups in your area and filter based on certain categories as well.

Google Events

Google aggregates a ton of different sites to find events for you as well. You can do a simple search like “business events this weekend” and you’ll get something that looks like this:

google networking events


Similar to, Eventbrite is another platform for finding local events near you. Many paid conferences and events use the platform, so you might find that these events are more likely paid than free, but that’s not always the case.

Plus, when people charge a $10 cover, the crowd is generally not just there for the free food, and you’ll likely make some more quality connections.

eventbrite networking

Facebook Events

If you are on Facebook at all these days, I’m sure you’ve seen some notification that friends are “interested” in an event near you.

Keep that in mind as you RSVP for events, friends will see those. But Facebook events is a great place to find local events that might be great places to network and meet people.

13 Tips for Introverts and Those Who Hate Networking

Alright, you know why networking is important, and how you can find events, but how exactly should you be networking? Here are a few tips to help make the experience less awkward.

1. Prepare Some Questions

Before you get to the event, come up with a few topics or questions you want to talk about. When conversation starts slowing down, or you can’t come up with anything organically, having these few things to talk about will be a huge help, trust me.

This tip has saved me from the awkward silence and “great to meet you, I’m gonna go grab a drink” line more than a few times.

The trick here is to make sure these are open-ended questions so you aren’t stuck with a simple “yes” or “no” without any follow up.

2. Use First Names

I’m terrible at this, and when I say terrible, I mean awful.

But people love when you use their name, and they’ll be surprised when you do. Most people are like me and can’t remember it after the first 3 seconds of conversation.

There are plenty of tricks you can learn to remember names so you can stand out a little, but I’m just honestly too lazy to figure it out. And I recognize that’s a fault of mine. Oh well.

Always follow up – the other people won’t, just understand that from the beginning. It has nothing to do with you or their interest with you, people just get busy.

3. Take Advantage of Lines

When I go to networking events, it can often get awkward quick. That’s when I take the opportunity to jump in a line – if there are drinks or food being served, I’ll head to the bar or food line.

Anywhere there will be someone in front of me and behind me. These are gold mines for meeting people and will often be the person you spend the next 10-20 minutes with. Since you’re both eating, you won’t be that awkward person walking around with food by yourself.

4. Gracefully Get Away

Once you’ve been to your fair share of events, you’ll experience the time when someone is chatting your ear off and hasn’t even asked your name yet.

More often than not, it’s probably best you spend your valuable time speaking with someone else. Excusing yourself to the restroom is usually the easiest way to do this.

If you have a stage 4 clinger on your hands, you might have to put your hand out to shake theirs and say, “it was great meeting you, I’m going to go mingle a bit.” That should do the trick.

  • Add your picture to your business cards. This seems off-topic, but there have been times when a conversation was getting ready to end and I’ve given them my card, they see my picture and then jump into another tangent about branding and such.

5. Smile, All the Way to the Bank

No but seriously, if you do nothing else right at a networking event, make sure you smile. You might think you’ll look like a weirdo who is way too happy, but no one is going to approach you if you have resting bitch face. Trust me.

Which one are you more comfortable approaching?

6. Get There Early

It’s so much easier to walk into a room of 3-5 people than to get there 15 minutes after the event starts and find yourself walking into a sea of people and trying to figure out who to talk to.

Even if you come early and ask if you can help set up, getting to know the event organizers is not a bad idea, considering they probably can introduce you to a few people.

7. Volunteer to Set Up

On the same note, volunteer to help ahead of time. If the event is larger or you know they’ll be understaffed, reach out a few days ahead of time and offer a hand.

8. Remember You’re Not the Only Nervous One

You really think you’re the only person who is nervous at these events? I guarantee you aren’t. Just remember that as you’re trying to get the courage to talk to someone new, or if someone flubs a word or two, we’re all in this together.

9. Don’t Focus on the Well-Known People

Don’t only look to talk to the big named people. Their best friend could be the guy standing next to you.

Don’t you think it’s easier to get into their “circle” if you become nice with their best friend vs being one of 800 people trying to get something out of the personal everyone knows?

10. Go in With an Open Mind

Don’t pressure yourself into walking out with exactly what you came for. Instead, make your goal to provide value to other people.

Don’t count the number of business cards you give out, just work on having meaningful conversations with people in your area.

11. Listen More Than You Talk

Listen more than you talk. Asking questions can often help you keep this ratio in check. You’re not meeting people to talk about yourself, you’re looking to gain information and learn what they do.

12. Follow Up, Because They Won’t

Okay, so I know you put in a lot of work at the event, but it doesn’t end there. You’re going to need to follow up afterwards as well, because most people don’t these days.

It doesn’t say anything about their interest in you, people just use the “busy excuse” too much these days. Look, I’m one of them, and I’ve totally been the person to not follow up. But I always appreciate when the other person does because I did want to stay in touch, I just forgot, or got busy.

And, before you leave, make sure you ask who their perfect client is. That way when you do follow up, you can potentially provide them with some leads. Or you can at least keep track of what they need so you can help them later on and grow the relationship.

13. Find Your “Anchor” Topic

The anchor topic is the thing the two of you have in common. The same hometown, or you’re both Phillies fans, or your grandmother lived on a farm.

There’s going to be something you can relate to in their story if you ask enough questions. My favorites are:

  • Where are you from?
  • Where did you grow up?
  • Where did you go to college?

Build Your Well Before You Need It

Networking is not something you can start today because your business is falling apart. Remember, I said it was a slow game? It is, and takes time to see really tangible results.

You’re going to need to start building these connections before you need to ask for something.

So get out there, try some local events, and start meeting new people. It’ll be nice to have friends who understand what you go through as an entrepreneur, I promise.

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