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Aug 08, 2013

Networking for Introverts at Affiliate Summit

Shawn Collins
Hello, my name is Shawn and I’m an introvert. I’ve been going to conferences for about 15 years. I was aware right away that they weren’t the sort of environment I preferred, since a main objective is to constantly strike up conversations with strangers to network. That just wasn’t in my nature. I was used to lots of labels for me, like shy, quiet, reserved. Then I came across a whole new label that never occurred to me before… introvert. Somebody on Facebook mentioned the book, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain, and I was curious, so I ordered it. I was fascinated at how spot on the description of an introvert fit me. Cain defines introverts as those who prefer less stimulating environments and tend to enjoy quiet concentration, listen more than they talk, and think before they speak. And I know I’m not alone with this at conferences, as Cain states that one third to half of Americans are believed to be introverts. So, here are some strategies I’ve employed over the years to make networking easier for me. 1. Pre-network. There are lots of opportunities to reach out to fellow attendees in advance of a conference, such as a group on Facebook created for attendees, following the hashtag on Twitter, using the app for the event, and reaching out to speakers (they’re on the site months before the conference). 2. Be prepared. Set up meetings in advance. Practice your elevator speech. Have questions ready to ask when chatting with new people, and be a good listener. 3. Start with a smile. You don’t have to be the one that breaks the ice, but you should be approachable. Burying your face in your phone or standing in the corner with your arms folded will guarantee a barrier around you. Just smile. People will walk up and start talking. 4. Get a conference friend. With your pre-networking, go and find somebody to be your wingman – it makes it way easier to meet people. And if it is your first time attending Affiliate Summit, we’ve got a Newcomers Program where attendees can get matched up with conference veterans to help them navigate the conference. Do this! 5. Just be there. It can be tempting to decide you’re backed up on work and then camp out in your hotel room. Don’t do that. Be with people as much as possible. Take some breaks away to recharge, but not too many. 6. Become a speaker. I don’t like speaking, either. I still get nervous. But it’s great exposure, plus it results in people seeking you out. Come on out and network in your way, introverts. Try these strategies to make Affiliate Summit the most productive time it can be for you. Shawn is a Co-founder of Affiliate Summit and Co-Editor-in-Chief of FeedFront Magazine and you can follow him @affiliatetip on Twitter. This article appeared in issue 23 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in August 2013. Read issue 23 of FeedFront Magazine.
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