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MAKE IT WORK * Your Tool Box Only Connect! I Networking Tips For Introverted Business Owners. f you’re an entrepreneur, you probably identify as a go-getter, an idea person, and a deeply passionate individual; most successful entrepreneurs tend to be all of these things. As many business experts will tell you, though, entrepreneurs also have an edge over the competition if they are extroverted relationship-builders. Selling your business—and by the same token, yourself—is critical to building your net- work of clients and partners. For some, the interpersonal stuff is the easiest part of the job. But perhaps you—like me—don’t con- sider yourself an extrovert. Maybe you’re so staunchly introverted that selling your business is a constant drain. You’re pas- sionate about your idea and your skills, but without a network, you don’t have much. If you’re not exactly sure where you fall—sure, you like meeting new people, but you’re not much of a salesman—then the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personal- ity test is a great way to get a keener insight into your business style. Based on the theo- ries of Carl Jung, the test measures four personality dichotomies: Extroversion/ Introversion, Sensing/Intuition, Thinking/ Feeling, and Judging/Perception. An indi- vidual’s responses to a series of questions give them one of sixteen different combi- nations, or “types.” If you’ve never taken the test before, there’s a free version of it here. Knowing your type is incredibly help- ful to career planning! can still be a highly successful entrepreneur, though building your network may always be the hardest part. As a freelance writer and editor for the past four years, it often feels as though my “business” is only as stable as the next connection that I make. Networking has never been my forte, but I continually work with my MBTI type to improve. Here, a few suggestions: E-network. Yes, the strongest connec- tions are usually made face-to-face. But that doesn’t mean that a well-timed email or LinkedIn message isn’t useful. For intro- verts, an email often gives that much-needed time to reflect and compose your message, rather than making off-the-cuff remarks. Cold-calling businesses is great, but I also find that an in-person encounter can be boosted with email. For instance, after be- ing introduced to someone: “It’s been great chatting with you. I’d love to send you an email to tell you more about my business.” Reach out to friends and family. It may sound obvious, but your loved ones can offer a lot of business support sim- ply through the people they might know. This doesn’t mean posting a catch-all on Facebook (along the lines of “Who knows someone that can get me some work?!!”). Rather, find some time to take a friend or relative out for coffee. Mention that you’re trying to build your network, and say that you’ve heard they’ve been working closely with x, y, or z. Ask if they wouldn’t mind If you’re taken the test and discovered connecting you. (or confirmed) that you’re an introvert, you Choose your events carefully. Some net- working events are easier for introverts than others. I’ve always dreaded walking into a room full of strangers with very little com- mon ground, the expectation being that ev- eryone just introduces him or herself and makes small talk (alumni events are often like this). However, there are many much less painful events that are secret networking opportunities. An art exhibition opening, for instance, or a magazine launch will have everyone talking and interacting, but also al- low for walking the venue alone, thinking and observing. Try to find events in your field (for instance, if you sell gourmet foods, then check out a cooking class). Don’t pretend. “Fake it ‘til you make it” may be a popular expression, but “pretend- ing” to be an extrovert is rarely a wise idea. First, you’ll emotionally and mentally fatigue yourself. Second, you’ll give a false impres- sion to your new contact. When your put- on personality starts to fade (and it definitely will), you’ll leave them confused, like you’ve given them hot and cold signals or perhaps just that you aren’t who they thought you were. Be yourself, take the alone time that you need to regroup, and work with your personality to be the best entrepreneur that you can. By Kelly Reid Kelly Reid is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in Toronto Life, Kings- ton This Week, Profile Kingston, and others. She welcomes correspondence from potential clients and partners at Connecting Women In Business Plan your next business meeting at the Ambassador Hotel & Conference Centre. We offer a variety of fully connected meeting rooms, full catering services and executive suites to comfortably unwind. Ask about our special meeting packages. 1550 Princess Street • 613-548-3605 Toll Free 1-800-267-7880 10 | WOMENMEANBUSINESS.CA | NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2014