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8 B2B Networking Tips for Introverted Entrepreneurs

8 B2B Networking Tips for Introverted Entrepreneurs

Introverted entrepreneurs often prefer running B2B companies, because they don’t want to deal with customers every day. Unfortunately, you still have to get out and meet people to drum up new business.

Do you enjoy the freedom of running your own B2B business, but dread meeting new people? It can be difficult to grow your business as an introvert.

Here are some B2B networking tips for introverted entrepreneurs that are having trouble stepping out of their comfort zone.

1. Begin B2B Networking Online

Jennie Lyon, a virtual assistant from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, encourages introverted entrepreneurs to use social media to build new relationships. There are a lot of great websites that can help you break the ice.

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You can also use your own website as a catalyst. Many popular B2B companies encourage people to contact them online.

You can also form connections over LinkedIn, Meetup.com and other networking sites. You can break the ice online, which will make it easier to connect with people in person.

2. Listen

You don’t have to be the center of attention. Many people simply appreciate having someone that is willing to listen.

3. Emphasize Your Own Talents

Most introverts don’t like small talk very much. Instead of chitchatting at the next networking event, you should have a clear elevator pitch that emphasizes your unique value proposition.

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Miles Austin, the founder of Fill the Funnel, emphasizes the importance of knowing your own talents. What are you really good at?

“Each of us is an expert in something. Identify what I call your “Wow” talent and focus in on that,” he writes.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Stick to Business

A lot of people go to networking events to mingle. They may want to enjoy a couple glasses of wine while reminiscing with a couple other professionals.

You don’t need to feel pressured into making small talk if you aren’t comfortable with it. You can keep things professional. Lead off with your elevator pitch and see if anyone is interested. If you into people that need your services, they will definitely ask to follow up.

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5. Don’t Use Alcohol as a Social Lubricant

Socially anxious people are often tempted to drink alcohol to loosen up. There is nothing wrong with having a drink when you go to a networking event, but you don’t want to indulge just to calm your nerves.

When you start drinking a bit, you are more likely to make foolish decisions. You may feel the need to act silly to fit in, but may end up embarrassing yourself in the process.

Resist the urge to drink to ease your nerves. Just try to be yourself.

6. Choose Networking Events Carefully

There are a lot of different networking events. Some are catered towards socializing, such as the Elks Club and many young professional groups. Others are focused primarily on lead generation.

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If you are not interested in mingling, then you should choose events that focus on making valuable business connections. BNI is one of the best. Most people are there strictly for business opportunities and won’t care if you don’t want to make small talk.

7. Try to Go With a Friend

If you have trouble making connections on your own, then you may want to attend networking events with a friend. Bring somebody that is more outgoing.

They can initiate conversations. You can feel free to interject when you have something valuable to contribute. Otherwise, you can let your friend carry the conversation.

Make sure that your friend has a professional attitude. You want to invite somebody that will make you look good.

8. Ask People to Connect One-to-One

Many introverts struggle to socialize in group settings. However, they can do just fine one-to-one.

If you meet somebody that you connect with, you may want to invite them to have an individual meeting sometime. You may feel a lot more comfortable talking with them there, rather than in the middle of a crowded bar or other networking venue.

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Ryan Kh

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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