As a quiet introvert, attending networking events has just never done it for me – even the word ‘networking’ can send shivers down my spine!
But of course as introverted business owners we still need to raise awareness of what we do…so what’s the alternative?
In this post, I share one of my all-time favourite ways of connecting with others and growing my business (while honouring my need for quiet, alone time).
Today, we’re talking online Facebook groups.
PS: This is a sneak peek into my new online course The Quiet Way. If you like what you read and want to find out more you can do so here.
When it comes to raising awareness of what you do, hanging out in online Facebook groups can act as a wonderful alternative to rubbing elbows with strangers at networking events.
The purpose of online groups is simple really. It’s about bringing a group of likeminded individuals together to connect, support and learn from each other.
Yes, it’s still about networking.
No, it’s not about leaving the house to sell yourself to strangers. (Did I just hear you breathe a sigh of relief?!)
Online groups of this nature (like The Business of Introverts’ Sanctuary), provide an opportunity for you to get feedback, ask questions, let off steam, support others and share your own expertise, knowledge and skills.
Ultimately, they provide an amazing place for you to connect with other individuals in a way that works for you.
You can dip in and out as you choose, ask questions as they surface, and connect with like-minded individuals across the globe.
When I first started in business the online groups that I became a member of were fundamental not only in raising awareness of who I was but also in ensuring I maintained a healthy mindset.
When you first get going with your own thing it can be so important to feel like you aren’t on your own (which is a tricky balance if you’re an introvert working in solitude).
With so much to learn and so much to do it can be an up and down rollercoaster of a ride to get things off the ground and having a group of people that you can turn to for support can really save your sanity and give you a boost of inspiration on those days when things just don’t go to plan.
Not only that but building connections in this way can often lead to paid work.
A huge amount of my first clients were people that I met in online groups, not to mention the guest blogging opportunities, shares on social media and general boosts to my self-esteem that came about through online connections.
That sense of camaraderie and trust that comes from getting to know people in a safe environment can lead to great support for each other – even if you’ve never met face to face!
Running your own group is also a great way to raise awareness of who you are and what you do and can work really well as a tool to learn more about your tribe.
Launching The Sanctuary has given me an opportunity to really connect with my members, learn about who they are and what they want, and to develop a deeper understanding of how I can help and guide them.
I’ve also started getting way more shares on my blog posts and have been able to directly help my followers by sharing their work and answering their questions (which can only be a good thing).
If you want to ditch the live networking events in favour of online groups, here are my top tips for getting started and making the most of them…
1) Choose a group that feels right
For groups like this to work for you, it’s important that you feel a connection with the other members. Read the description of the group before joining to see if it sounds like your type of thing and don’t be afraid to leave a group if you don’t feel you are getting anything out of it.
I’ve joined a few groups in the past that I’ve gone on to leave simply because they didn’t feel right for me. As an introvert there will only be so much online networking you can deal with, so you may need to try out a few groups till you settle on one that feels like home.
2) Don’t just take, take, take
No-one likes a spammer and if you’re using a group simply to promote your stuff then that’s exactly what you’re doing. Similarly if you only go into a group to ask questions but never take the time to help others then you won’t score points with anyone.
Keep in mind how you would like people to treat you and do exactly the same to them. Good online etiquette doesn’t go unnoticed and groups of this nature should be friendly, positive and supportive.
You don’t need to spend hours in a group to support its ethos, however it’s important that when you do show up you try and answer questions where you can, welcome people into the group when they first arrive, and take time to support and cheer people on. The whole group will benefit and you will be remembered as someone who cares.
3) Take note of the guidelines
Most groups will have guidelines and a welcome message so make sure you read those first before you start posting. Aside from having a rule about minimal self-promotion I’m pretty easy with how my group is used, however other groups may have quite specific ground rules on what and when you can post.
It’s always worth checking with the owner of the group if you are unsure. Be respectful of the guidelines and you’ll do just fine.
4) Introduce yourself
As an introvert you may want to just hang out in the background watching, listening and learning. I personally don’t have an issue with that as I know that sitting back and taking things in is how many of us learn best.
However if you want to interact with others, ask questions and share your work then it’s a really good idea to introduce yourself. Just a short and sweet message letting people know who you are, what you do and where you’re from does the trick and means you aren’t going in cold.
5) Be careful with your time
As with all social media, using online groups of this nature can easily take over and become a huge time suck. When using Facebook groups make sure you set the notifications to a manageable level (particularly important if you know you get can easily get distracted). It’s quite all right to switch off notifications and just pop in to the group once a week if that works for you.
Take time to experiment, give yourself the all-important space to breathe and reflect, and you’ll soon find a balance that works for you.
Like this post and want to read more? This has been a sneak peek into my new online course The Quiet Way. Find out more here.