Learn to Network

I have recently joined a new service called “Shy Networking“.  As a lifelong introvert, although I would no longer describe myself as shy, networking networking with confidencehas never come easy. Likewise for one of the team behind Shy Networking, professional blogger Chris Garrett.

My main reason for joining was to learn how to network online, which basically I’m very poor at. Whilst I have learnt (the hard way) to network reasonably effectively face to face, I’ve not been able to carry that forward on the internet.

This is somewhat ironic, as theoretically it should be easier for a shy or introverted person to network where there is no face to face contact.  However, I’ve started to realise that some of the principles behind networking go deeper than just being able to cope with meeting strangers. Just because I can “do” face to face networking doesn’t mean I’ve been good at it?!

Brian Tracy

I recently saw a Brian Tracy video on the 10 essentials  for success. One of these was contacts – the number of people who know you in a positive way. He stressed never take rejection as a sign of lack of interest or take it personally – people are busy.

Some will, some won’t, so what…  next.

The more people you know, the more likelihood of the right person being there at right time. His key method to build contacts was to always look for ways to help. However, that’s easier said than done.

Time will tell if I can improve and build my network via Shy Networking and it proves worth the money.  But it has got me reflecting about networking,

here are my suggestions on what can help:-

Be prepared

Some early advice from Shy Networking is not to launch into a prepared “elevator pitch” or speech. However, you can expect somewhere along the line to be asked certain questions.  Like going for an interview, being prepared to answer those expected questions can give you confidence.

This isn’t the same as launching into a slick “pitch”.   It just giving some thought to what are the main things you want to put across that give someone else the chance to be interested in you.  Whatever job you do, or interests you have, they can be made to sound interesting or dull.

And part of the problem may be your reluctance to talk about yourself and what you do, to blow your own trumpet as it were. Whilst the most common advice is to be genuinely interested in others, you’ll never get anywhere networking unless you are comfortable talking about yourself and being at least a little bit interesting!

Learn to tolerate uncertainty.

This is a key to  self confidence in any situation. We cannot control our environment, especially in any situation where we are meeting new people. Recognise that feeling of anxiety as quite normal, view the event as an exciting challenge rather than major threat.

Look Good

network & connect
Like tolerating uncertainty, getting into the habit of looking confident takes a bit of practice.  It goes beyond what you are wearing (important as that is) and into how you stand and walk. At least 70% (some give a much higher percentage) of our message is delivered by our body language.

Learn to Relax

One of my problems was finding my voice got lost and I needed to shout to make myself heard. This wasn’t so much a problem with having a poor speaking voice, but a reaction to tension. Relaxation is the opposite body state to tension.

The more you practice simple relaxation techniques, the easier it becomes to make it your “default setting”. Quite often people don’t realise how tense they are. Tension can easily become a habit you slip into without your knowing it.

Nurture the Connection

Networking isn’t just about making connections, enduring the event, and then escaping.  To make it worth doing you need to be prepared to take things to the next level.

If you are at an event where you are unlikely to meet people again face to face in the near future, ensure you have some means of following up. That partly means securing an address (particularly email or Twitter) or number – usually via business card. But also leaving with some memory of the worthwhile connections you made and having some idea how to sustain the conversation.

This could be as simple as sending them a link to a favourite site linked to a mutual interest, or something else likely to be of interest to them. Don’t send them anything promoting yourself unless they specifically asked for it.

Have you any tips on how to network?

photographs by pasukaru76 and Matt from London on Flickr

Nick Grimshawe June 27, 2010 at 5:15 am

Hi David,

Great article. I haven’t been particularily good at networking either and I have made an effort but it shouldn’t be an effort. I often run out of time to network effectively so I guess I still have a lot of growth in that area.

I’ll drop by again to see how the “Shy Networking” is going. Maybe I should look at it.


David July 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Thanks for the comment and kind words. I’ve been on holiday for a couple of weeks so haven’t had time to get into the Shy Networking package. Its interesting that staying in a large hotel I was quite happy to sit and watch the world go by, talking to hardly any other guests apart from my family. Bottom line is some enjoy networking more than others!

Nick Grimshawe July 5, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Hi David,

I use to be like that too but it seems I’ve somehow let the genie escape from the bottle and now I find myself talking to strangers and having great conversations. I seem to attracting people I would like to talk to too. Must be all that meditation.

Love your blog. Welcome back from holidays.


Andrew @ Blogging Guide July 19, 2010 at 9:16 am

I know very few people who find the face-to-face networking easy.

Things that I like to do is let the other person do most of the talking, listen intently and ask simple follow-up questions – i.e. show interest in the other person. My view is most people like to share their ‘story’, so I let them.


David July 19, 2010 at 6:07 pm

That sounds good advice, ultimately if we’re not genuinely interested in what the other person has to say our networking will flounder. Thanks for commenting.

Bruce July 19, 2010 at 1:44 pm

I like the “some will,some won’t, so what, next”… I am not much of a net worker, I never know what people want. Since I have been in medicine over 30 years, I usually do more like Andrew above. I “take a history”. How are you? How often do you attend? Do you find it useful? People love to tell you about themselves and their opinion. I know lots of stories. When I hear a problem I try to think of someone in my data base who can solve that and then send an email to one and cc the other and introduce them.

David July 19, 2010 at 6:14 pm

As with Andrew, that sounds good advice to try out. I could easily remember the “take a history” bit, although hopefully I wouldn’t be quite as “sterile” as some of the medics I work with!
That’s also good advice about helping someone connect with someone you know who might help them. Brian Tracy said something similar in the video I saw (wasn’t on Youtube, can’t find the link at present). Thanks for comment

Beat Schindler July 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Far from saying I’m good at networking, what works for me is to see it as just another way of ‘turning stones over’, or ‘kissing frogs’ or whatever metaphor works. Gold can stare at you, but more often is found by turning stones over. And concerning frogs, with the prince(ss) about to kiss him/her, they tend to retreat with, “But I’m not ready!” Put differently, it’s not the act (of networking) that’s important and motivates me to do it the first place, but the (desired) outcome.
PS. In reference to your collection of quotes – maybe this Hank Aaron quote applies to when we network, too: “My motto was always to keep swinging. Whether I was in a slump or feeling badly or having trouble off the field, the only thing to do was keep swinging.”

David July 19, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Thanks for your interesting comment – as you say, its the desired outcome that counts. And I’ll use your quote to start off my collection for volume two!

Michelle Vandepas July 19, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Hi David,

I really like your suggestions and tips on how to be confident and reduce the anxiety in dealing with people face-to face and learn the easy way of networking. If this was my first time in networking, I would definitely learn a lot of things from you. And I’m sure that newbies in are going to subscribe from your feeds to learn more tips. You are definitely helping a lot of people and please continue do so.Thanks.

Michelle Vandepas

David July 19, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Thanks for your comment and kind words. I think the best advice for newbies is to take any opportunity to practice these tips.

Corinne Edwards July 19, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Hi David –

I thought this was important –

“And part of the problem may be your reluctance to talk about yourself and what you do, to blow your own trumpet as it were. Whilst the most common advice is to be genuinely interested in others, you’ll never get anywhere networking unless you are comfortable talking about yourself and being at least a little bit interesting!”

Most of us were taught not to “blow our own trumpet.”

I guess we have to learn to brag – a little.

David July 19, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Thanks for your comment, that is excellent advice – wish I had some way of highlighting it for everyone else!

Debbie @ Happy Maker July 19, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Some really good tips you have David. One thing that I find when it comes to networking is things that work for me are listening and talking from the heart. How ever I still have lots to learn.
Thanks David,

David July 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Thanks for your comment and kind words. Networking should be easy as we grow up talking and listening and being interested in the world around us. So where we “unlearn” I’m not sure!

Cheryl from thatgirlisfunny July 19, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Networking feels to me like a game. Some people have natural talent and others have to practice, fail, practice, succeed and keep on practicing. Each person we meet is different – we might click, we might not. Sometimes, not clicking is for the best, even if it doesn’t seem so at the time. The ones we click with are the most important. It becomes easier to find people who are available – not too busy at just the moment we’re available too. Keep practicing and don’t give up. Networking is a lifelong habit and will guarantee you’ll always have an interesting story whether it works or whether it doesn’t. We’re all human and not that much different from each other really.

David July 20, 2010 at 8:37 pm

I really like your line “Networking is a lifelong habit and will guarantee you’ll always have an interesting story whether it works or whether it doesn’t.”. Reflecting on other comments, I think we make too much of the process, its something we did naturally as kids! thanks for your comment.

Joel July 19, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Since moving to the US and working for myself the introvert side has naturally come out more again. Learning to relax is much easier said than done, and practice seems to be the only cure (for me at least), and yet opportunities to practice are much less than they used to be. Thanks for the tips!

David July 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it” – so said Sydney J Harris as I quoted in my new book. However, I agree its easier said than done and to be honest, I teach people that the best time to practice and learn the skill is when you are feeling reasonably relaxed to start with. Thanks for your comment.

Joel July 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Great quote, thanks!

Benjamin July 20, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Very nice, David!

Accepting uncertainty is a critical key for confidence…

When you can relax a little into the unknown and the unexpected, a certain sense of “it’s OK” begins to arise in more and more situations throughout your life.

keep smiling,


David July 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Thanks for your comment and kind words. Its hard to explain this whole issue of coming to terms with the uncertainty of life. That every move we make is into a world of variable and unknown outcomes. Learning to accept that is priceless.

Krizia @ Affiliate Management Maven July 21, 2010 at 6:06 am

Networking is essential to building relationships.

Contrarily to Joel, I’m an extrovert and working at home and as an internet marketer has been quite difficult for me and I do enjoy any networking event I can go to.


David July 21, 2010 at 7:20 am

My wife’s an extrovert and I sometimes fee quite envious of her ability to naturally network (not that she is aware she is doing it!). Does it make it easier for you to network online, or do you get frustrated if not seeing people face to face? Thanks for your comment.

Tyrone July 26, 2010 at 10:14 am

Hi David,

Great realizations here. Taking time to rest and nurturing relationships would be the ones that are crucial to me at the moment since Internet Marketing really requires a lot of work and even I’m outsourcing, I would still create training videos, create new plans for my staff for every new project then at the same time, I have to balance my time communicating with people around my market. Having a week-long holiday every 3-4 months should be a requirement! 🙂


David July 28, 2010 at 7:20 am

Nurturing relationships is very important, and easy to neglect. Networking isn’t about collecting contacts but making meaningful relationships. Thanks for your comment.

Amy LeForge July 28, 2010 at 12:01 am

David, those are great lessons! I made a new contact today as part of another transaction and the boys were along with me so when we got back in the car I tried to explain the benefit of networking and how meeting this woman could directly impact them. They were anxious for a milkshake and I’m not sure they paid attention. But I’m glad I took the time to chat with her and make a connection instead of rushing along with my day. I’ll have to keep doing that and also implement the pointers you share here. Maybe sometime I’ll be confident enough to go to one of those social networking events and not feel like a total misfit.

David July 28, 2010 at 7:35 am

Thanks for your comment and kind words. Networking does involve making that extra bit of effort, and thinking outside our immediate needs – which tend to be focussed on ourselves.

Jerry2 October 3, 2011 at 10:02 pm

Very good points. I thought your point on rehearsing commonly asked questions was particularly helpful with reducing social anxiety. The more practice one gets the more natural and calm they become in public. Introverts just don’t like surprises or being caught off guard. Rehearsal is the key.

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