Preparing to step out of your comfort zone
Let’s face it, getting out of the office and meeting people face to face is a huge part of prospecting in the real estate industry. If there’s a networking event in your city, there are Realtors there. If there is a mixer, there are Realtors there. Shaking hands and going belly to belly is still the best way to garner business, despite the rise in technology and our frequent focus on that part of your toolbox.
But many Realtors are introverted. Some are shy, some are not, and there are varying degrees of introversion, but if you get butterflies in your stomach before attending a networking event and you feel apprehension, consider ways to get out of it just before getting in your car, or maybe your heart races as you enter a room full of strangers, you could be introverted.
Rather than stick to the office and hope people will come to you, here are six easy networking tips for introverted personalities via Dumb Little Man, and we’ll add some tips at the end.
Related reading: “Networking tips for introverted personalities in real estate“
Six networking tips for introverts
The full tips can be read at Dumb Little Man, but below are the highlights of their tips with our interpretation found after the bolded tip.
- Get to know people beforehand. If an event’s RSVP list is public before the event, or you find people on Twitter talking about the event, it’s not creepy to reach out and introduce yourself virtually. Try telling someone you’ve never been to the event OR even admitting you’re nervous around crowds. This admission could help some extroverts to seek you out and help. You’d be amazed at how much easier it is to meet someone when it’s not stranger to stranger, rather putting a real live face to a name (plus it gives you the opportunity to invite people to come to you rather than vice versa, a real boost for introverts).
- Go prepared. If you’re panicked about driving directions, whether or not you have your business cards, or where the event is held in a huge conference center, you could be frazzled upon arrival to an event which compounds the effects of introversion. If you’re going to a mixer, know where to park before you get in your car and read the invitation closely to know if you’re supposed to bring anything. If you’re going to a conference, print out a map of the conference center and study where you’re going for the first half of the first day before you arrive. These few things could keep you cool under pressure.
- Start a conversation right away. It’s easiest to get talking right away, otherwise you could become comfortable in the warm embrace of wallflowerdom. Talk to someone in line, ask them if they’ve been before or if they have any tips for you (which leads to a natural introduction between you two), or if you’re at a mixer, go straight to the bar and while waiting on your drink, ask other attendees if they’ve been before. If it’s your first time, you’re looking for tips, if it’s not, you’re looking to meet other new people because you know how nerve wracking it can be.
- Look for someone else who seems shy. We don’t recommend sticking to this strategy as you may end up in a dark corner with one person for the entire event, but it is good practice to get your feet wet at the event. This tip isn’t complicated, rather find someone who you can sense is as introverted as you and strike up idle chat to gain confidence. “What are you drinking? I’m thinking of switching, this drink is way too strong. Oh you like Belgain Ale too? I’m looking for new tastes, what brand do you like? Oh yeah? That sounds cool! I used to work somewhere that happy hour started at three, have you ever worked anywhere like that? Oh you work at IBM? That’s cool, do you know so and so? Me too!” And so forth.
- Don’t talk too quickly. Nerves sometimes gets your mouth motor running and not only can it make people uncomfortable, it could make you unintelligible. This is a biggie and can really be off-putting, especially to extroverts. Accents can become more evident as you speak in a rushed manner, so if you’re from out of town, others may not understand you. Don’t stunt yourself.
- Don’t over analyze afterwards. Introverts tend to walk away from an event unsure of their behavior. “Did I actually say that?” “Was I boring? He seemed so bored.” “Was that joke funny? I can’t tell if those laughs were genuine.” “When I came back from the bathroom, they were gone, what did I do wrong?” Chances are people were distracted, busy, drunk or didn’t even notice. Unless you said something blatantly offensive, you were fine. Introverts, you should know that extroverts aren’t analyzing the night like you are, they’re just remembering that they had a good time.
Six bonus networking tips
I confess that I am a strange mix of introvert and extrovert. I am an event organizer in my city, so I am networking with high frequency. I’m not nervous beforehand, and I really get excited to see friends and meet new people. But as the engine starts as we’re on our way, I get butterflies in my stomach not about how the events will go but about being around so many people. I get a little panicked (not that anyone can tell) as people start pouring in and my heart races. I’d rather be at home. All that said, I really like people and get energy from being around people. The truth is that after 20 minutes at any event, I’m fine and I’m having a good time.
Here are my tips for the extrovert/introvert:
- Get to the event early. I’m naturally an early person, but I find that arriving early allows me to watch people as they come in and that gives me a sense of control rather than walking into a packed room. At conferences, I like to be seated early. The control mechanism is in allowing people to come to you which can be helpful for the beginning of an event.
- Practice makes perfect. I remember my first professional mixer and thinking that everyone could see through me. I didn’t know what to expect, how to dress, or what was expected of me. But after a few mixers, it got easier. The same goes for conferences you attend year after year- knowing your surroundings and some familiar faces goes miles to squash your introverted fears.
- Remember names. The truth is that most people are bad at remembering names, even when nametags are being worn. It’s not their or your fault, things happen at a fast pace at events and conferences. But if you can hone in on some names and remember them at the next event, that will go a long way in their mind and help them be comfortable with you. When I began focusing on names, I began hearing, “wow, that is amazing that you remember me,” and “we barely spoke an you remember? That’s impressive.” I try to remember names because I would like people to remember mine.
- Be yourself. I do not subscribe to the “fake it until you make it” mantra. If you’re not chipper, don’t go to an event and act like a cheerleader. It is very disconcerting to me to meet someone at a mixer and get to know them, but at a private coffee later that week, they’re a totally different person. There is an instant distrust there. Push yourself to be interactive, but don’t change your personality.
- Smile. The only fake that I recommend is a smile. When people are telling jokes or interesting stories, smile even if it’s not natural. It is a huge compliment to others. When meeting people, smile. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it makes me when someone doesn’t smile when they shake hands. People see smiles as a welcome mat and you become more approachable and isn’t it really ideal for introverts to be approached rather than have to hunt for people to meet?
- Don’t get drunk. Some guides for introverts instruct you to have a drink upon arrival to soothe your nerves. Fantastic, there’s an open bar, but one drink becomes two and your sipping your nerves away becomes you break dancing to no music and barfing off of a balcony. No bueno. Get your bearings first and sip slowly. If you’re around new people, never get drunk. Period.
Now that you’ve read all twelve tips, don’t you feel better prepared and more calm already? Tell us your tips in the comments for overcoming those stomach butterflies.