Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs Who Don’t Like to Network

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If you are a new entrepreneur looking for networking tips, there is plenty of advice out there to choose from. But what if you are really not good at networking, or you just don’t like it, period? To be honest, the same qualities that can make some people good at building their own business can make it difficult for them to seek out and solidify lasting professional relationships.

Networking tips for shy entrepreneursYet, if you are seriously trying to start up your own business, then you have to network on some level or you won’t get very far. So, how can you go about building connections with other movers and shakers while not moving so far from your comfort zone?

Here are four networking tips for entrepreneurs who don’t enjoy networking:

Offer to do a service for free. If you really would like the fast track to connecting with other influencers and entrepreneurs, then this is it. Offer to do them a valuable service for free with no strings attached. A good example of this is in action is Derek Halpern from Social Triggers. After setting up his now outrageously popular website, Derek contacted some of the biggest names on the web and offered to do a live critique of their websites. Many people “bit,” and the resulting publicity that he received as well as the connections he built successfully catapulted his business to the top in a very short amount of time.

Barter. Reaching out to other entrepreneurs is crucial, particularly when your business is just getting off the ground. It’s a two-way street, and most of the time you may be well-received! But at the same time, it may not feel so comfortable blatantly asking for help or recognition. If you go in, however, offering something of value in exchange for that help or recognition, then it can change the whole dynamic.

One example of this would be writing up an informative post or review on your blog that positively mentions one or more people you would like to connect to, working hard to promote this content, and then asking the people you referenced if they would also share it with their social circles. You benefit from the added exposure and open the door to a further relationship, and they get to show their followers another example of their authority within the niche. And, here’s an off-line example: if another small business owner has an empty storefront that would be perfect for your next event, ask about it! Maybe you could offer this person a percentage of sales generated. Some of the best business partnerships come from these types of arrangements.

Always be ready… Sometimes networking just happens. Networking opportunities don’t always happen in hotel ballrooms complete with name tags. So if you tend to run away from these kinds of events like the plague, there still may be hope for you. As an entrepreneur, you never know when you’re going to meet someone at a restaurant, a ball game, or even at the gym who may be valuable to you professionally. When this happens, let it happen. Always, always have a stack of business cards on hand or an electronic equivalent, and keep your website looking polished at all times. Nothing kills a fruitful networking conversation faster than, “Well, um, I’ll have to get back to you.”

Don’t forget the follow-up. Many entrepreneurs over-look the importance of a good follow-up. If you do any of the networking tips above, then don’t forget to follow up on the experience with an email, a note, or even a Twitter shout-out. Other entrepreneurs notice these gestures more than almost anyone. Make someone feel like you believe their time is valuable, and they’ll give you more of it. Make them feel brushed off, even by accident, and chances are they may never forget it.

If you are an entrepreneur, then successfully networking with others is vital to your own success. Even if you happen to not enjoy networking or networking events, there are still many things that you can do to change the dynamic, and make the kinds of connections you need to succeed.

Author Bio:

Ryan Currie is a product manager at BizShark.com, with 5 years experience in online marketing and product development.  In addition to web related businesses, he also enjoys the latest news and information on emerging technologies and open source projects.

Comments (10)

  • Hi,

    Found this on BizSugar.

    Well written and I think the most important part is NOT to forget to follow up. Very mind blowing and appreciate the write. Voted up on BizSugar too.

    • Hi Reginald,

      Thanks 🙂

      And, yes, follow up is extremely important. It’s funny because usually starting things up from scratch, that first approach, is the hard part. Follow up is the “easy” part, and it’s the one that makes the most impact.

  • I found that offering to do a service for free is a great way to meet the right people. It can even be for volunteer or not for profits when the people you’d really like to know are involved as volunteers or on the board.

    • Hi John,

      Offering to do something for free with “no strings attached” is a powerful connection builder. It makes the other person much more open and receptive to you and your business because it gives over the impression that you are not just connecting in order to get something from the other person.

      Another important tip is to pay attention to the information these people share within their social networks/blogs, etc (without being creepy about it). You’re getting to know this person and you should look for opportunities to show that you are paying attention to the things that are important to him or her. So, for example, if the person was nominated for an award, send an email, tweet, etc congratulating them on it.

  • Hi,

    I will admit it I suck at networking, I should probably spend more time on that.

    I get only the opportunities that just happen to me.

    I actually think that networking is a time consuming task and that’s probably the main thing why I put it off or maybe that I feel I’m wasting the time of the other person.

    But yeah I will try to change that.

    Great article 🙂

    • Hi Liudas,

      I don’t think you have to change who you are. Just find ways to be yourself, to keep doing what you are already doing well, and work networking into that. You’ll be much more successful that way 🙂

  • Great article! Very Dale Carnegie to give something away for free to get recognition. It’s a great strategy, and I could see it creating some great win-win scenarios. I also agree networking can happen anywhere–I actually met one of my best contacts on Facebook, during an online discussion about making the US a barter economy!

    • Hi Julian,

      Yes, the free help or favor can definitely be a win-win, and the more genuine you can be about it the better.

      And just being even somewhat active on social media opens you up to a lot of potential networking opportunities- even if you are not actively looking for them. So, be ready 🙂

  • I’m not sure how I’d offer something for free. I index books for a living. A book index can cost anywhere from $200 up into the thousands, depending on the book. So offering to index a book for free is out of the question; besides being very time-consuming, it’s way too much to spend on marketing to one prospect. I’m not sure what else I could offer for free.

    • No, you wouldn’t offer your services like that for free…

      If you are trying to reach prospects, then your free offer doesn’t have to be so big nor valuable. An example would be a free “report” on common mistakes that you have seen authors make in their writing, like their chapter titles aren’t good, the font is too small, etc… It has to be something that your targeted customers would find interesting or useful, but it doesn’t have to be big.

      If you are targeting other business owners in order to work with them- like an editor who could then refer his/her clients to you- then you’d have to think of things that you could do that would be of value to them, but not knock you out in the process.


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