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Business Relationships … How Do You Build Them If You’re an Introvert (or Just Hate People)? | WBRC Solutions


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Business Relationships … How Do You Build Them If You’re an Introvert (or Just Hate People)?

To build your business, you’ve got to build business relationships. How do you do that if you’re an introvert or people have a tendency to drain your energy (or downright frustrate you) most days? There are all kinds of easy things you can do to build a relationship.

How do you do that when you don’t have the time, energy, or feel like it? If you’re not what most folks consider a “people person” or you’re shy when talking to strangers, here are a couple of ideas for you.

The first thing to do when thinking about starting a business relationship is to decide who you want to have one with — narrow the pool of potential clients. It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s like pruning a tree. Sometimes you have to cut some new growth to make the whole tree stronger.

Which brings us to the two easiest ways ever to start a business relationship: networking events and professional activities.

A networking event is the easiest single way to meet potential clients and client referral sources ever. All you have to do is walk into a venue, sit down at a table with a couple of strangers, plop down your business cards, eat lunch, listen to a speaker, and then leave after collecting the business cards of others.

All you have to do is chat with the people at your table. There’s also usually a meet and greet time before the meal is actually served, and that’s a good time to chat with people and pass around your business cards.

Sure you have to interact with people, maybe even strangers, but it actually is much easier than it seems because everything there is out in the open. That is, people are expecting you to talk about yourself and your business and hand them your business card. You must, of course, return the favor, and allow them to do the same.

If that still sounds hard, here’s a tip that might make it easier for you to work the room: talk less, listen more. Most people will assume you are interested in them and think better of you for being so, and most people will assume you are interesting and intelligent until you prove otherwise.

Professional organizations are excellent places to meet new people. If you are not involved in an industry or professional organization, start searching. The better known you are in your industry, the more likely you are to get business.

Further, people who are ancillary to your industry, but crucial for getting business are likely to attend. For instance, an estate planning attorney might be part of the Statewide Estate Planning Council, an industry group that meets once a month for a dinner lecture. At dinner, that attorney will probably sit with other attorneys, CPAs, life insurance professionals, and financial advisors. All those people are sources of business for the attorney and vice versa.

To be effective networking at an industry or professional group, try to get known outside of the average networking lunch. If you want anyone to take your business card and actually do something with it besides throw it away, you need to make yourself known, and trusted, to the group. Volunteer for something. Speak at a lunch, write an article for the newsletter, or donate meeting space. Do something besides just attend (though that’s better than nothing). When you do those things, you won’t have to worry about trying to talk to people … they’ll be clamoring to talk to you.

Joining industry and professional groups and attending their events is a good start. Most groups of this type also have online activities. Whether it’s a listserv or a message board, contribute to it. For the introvert, this is probably the easiest single way to meet business referral sources — even easier than the networking lunch.

Once you meet someone and decide you want to start a relationship, follow up right away. The next day is best, but within three days is crucial. Anything after that, they’ve probably already forgotten you. Nothing elaborate is necessary, just a quick email or phone call mentioning that it was nice talking to them and you’d like to meet again.

Be sure to ask to meet again. If you don’t, you’ve just wasted your time. If you promised some sort of information, be sure to deliver it. After the quick call or email, send a note with your business card inside, repeating yourself.

Before you venture out your door, keep in mind the most important concept of all. Don’t give up after the first event. You probably won’t be at your best at that first event. Give yourself permission to learn. Relationship building is a slow process … give it time.

Where have you networked your way into a business relationship? Please consider leaving a comment.

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