Would it surprise you to learn that I’m an introvert? Yep, it’s true! The girl who shows up online to teach thousands about email lists, social media, and vulnerability is totally shy and not into small talk or chitter-chatter. I recharge my batteries when I’m solo (or with my nearest and dearest), and I adore my alone time.
Honestly, my introversion has allowed me to turn to my online community and feel more okay with opening up because I can network, make friends, and talk about real stuff from the comfort of my own home — sweatpants, dirty hair, and all. It’s allowed me to find real women — legitimately through Instagram — who are walking similar paths to mine, and befriend them, love on them, and support them through their own highs and lows.
I’m being serious! My friendships with Rachel Hollis and Amy Porterfield started in our DMs and moved into a group text before we finally got together for a weekend of laughter, commiserating, and big-time-dreaming in Tennessee last fall. Networking and creating relationships online, to me, just feels better than attending some shiny event with fancy hors d’oeuvres, plastered-on smiles, and surface-level convos.
Okay, okay, my introvert is showing… Speaking of, being an introverted entrepreneur can sometimes be freaking lonely when you work from home and LIKE being at home. Can you relate? You’re not the type to go mingle in a room of strangers or pull aside someone in your yoga class to chat, but you also need, like, some human contact, even if you do enjoy your alone time.
That’s where this online networking thing really comes in clutch. In the age of online dating and food delivery apps, it only makes sense to take networking to the digital space, especially for us intros. So, let’s dig into the 3 ways I use the internet to connect with others and build meaningful community and connection (and lifelong friendships) online.
Start by cheering on your peers online.
I feel like so many of us millennials got into social media in the MySpace and early Facebook days to just keep up with our friends. But Instagram has taken things to a whole new level, allowing us to engage with celebrities, influencers, and complete strangers.
It’s pretty nuts, but it can also be beneficial when you start finding people in the same arena of business or season of life as you. Odds are, you probably already follow a handful of likeminded people who could be considered your peers.
But how often do you reach out to them, other than a quick double-tap before you keep scrolling? If you admire them and like what they’re doing, start commenting or DMing them when they post. Treat them like a friend, support their content, share it and cheer them on. You might just be surprised how open others are to genuine kindness and interaction, and it might even lead to a blossoming friendship.
And it’s a whole lot less intimidating than a random convo with a stranger at the store.
Sign up for a course in your industry or to learn something new.
Courses are wonderful for the new education and expansion of your skill-sets, of course. But they’re also an incredible way to meet new people in similar fields as yours or with likeminded goals, as a side benefit!
You’ll already be dedicating time to learn the new material and implement it — why not go the extra step to connect with others who are going through the same material?
You could even start a mini-mastermind as you go through the program to exchange ideas, inspiration, problem-solving, and more. People in our courses do this all the time when they have a similar niche as others or complementary goals to work alongside each other.
Consider goals when engaging with new people.
When you think about networking from a broad perspective — what’s your goal? To meet new friends with similar dreams? To engage and exchange ideas with people in your field? To create a circle of people who have skill-sets you don’t? To find someone with in the same industry who understands you and your business?
It might be all of these; it might be none. But getting clear on your intentions behind why you want to invite more people into your life and your work is essential to inviting the right people in. You probably don’t just need another happy hour pal to discuss Bravo with, right?
When you interact with new people and have an idea of the gaps in your current relationships, you’ll be able to drill down into what you vibe with in someone and really make a strong connection with them.
It’s so important to have some industry acquaintances — even friends — because often, the people in your personal life inner circle aren’t running businesses like yours. They likely don’t understand what you’re going through in the different seasons of entrepreneurship and day-to-day responsibilities.
It is so powerful and affirming to have likeminded people to bounce ideas off of, lift you up, encourage, and work through rough spots with. When you run a business alone, it’s important to have someone who relates because, after all, even introverts want to feel understood and supported, right?