As a shy person, I much prefer networking online. I like that you can seek out people with whom you’d like to connect and learn a little bit about them and find the things you have in common to help you make that connection. It’s a lot less intimidating to reach out to someone in a controlled environment.
While personally, I dread the idea of networking, professionally, I understand the value of networking to gain and retain clients and to form relationships with suppliers. To help me do this, I plan on growing my network on Twitter and attending at least one—baby steps!—professional networking event in person within the next six months.
I recently changed my personal Twitter account into a “professional” account—meaning I’ve now identified my employer and position; I’m reaching out to stakeholders, retweeting my employer’s tweets and sharing content that’s more oriented to best practices in business communications. I’ve already gained over 60 new followers in the last month, so I’m growing my network. The challenge for me right now is to find the balance between “personal me” and “professional me.” Now that my employer is known, even though I’ve posted a disclaimer that my tweets are mine, I want to remain professional, but I also don’t want to censor everything I write.
To meet my goal of attending at least one networking event in person, I will finally accept an invitation I receive from a supplier. Planning events is a big part of my job, and I often receive invitations from hotels and tourism bureaus. So that I’ll feel comfortable knowing at least one person in the room, I’ll grab a colleague and go. I’ll admit I’ll have to work really hard at keeping this goal. In-person networking intimidates me, and I’ve gotten good at finding reasons to avoid it.
Communications professional and educator Susan Murphy offers great networking tips for shy people in her blog post, More Advice for the Shy. This is advice I’ll definitely follow. How about you?