How To Be Great At Networking—Even If You’re Introverted

If you’re like most bookkeepers, you might think that you need to be an extrovert to be good at networking. But in reality, that’s not the case. 

If there’s a task that many bookkeepers find challenging, it’s networking. After all, you need to put in a lot of effort to put yourself out there and meet people. To make your networking efforts pay off, you’ll even need to go through a lengthy process. You’ll need to establish rapport and trust before you even get people’s contact information. Then, you’ll need to nurture that relationship before you make your pitch. And if you’re an introverted bookkeeper, it becomes even more challenging. You have to step out of your comfort zone to network. Otherwise, you can’t scale your bookkeeping firm.

Fortunately, it’s possible to make networking easier for introverts and Beth Buelow is the perfect person to discuss it. See, Beth is a professional coach and speaker. And she has helped numerous introverted entrepreneurs amplify their strengths and build businesses. She truly knows the struggle of introverts because she’s an introvert herself.

Why You Don’t Need to Be an Extrovert to be Great at Networking

Now, I’ve worked with numerous bookkeepers in improving their networking skills. And many of them share this belief: They need to be extroverts if they want to network effectively.  

The truth? You don’t need to be gregarious and work the room every time to be great at networking. In fact, you can be effective at building connections even if you’re the biggest introvert in the room. What’s more, the view that you should be an extrovert to be great at networking is outdated. Daniel Pink, a New York Times Bestselling author even gave an interesting view about this. The topic came up when I interviewed him at a conference. And he had this to say:

“Most people think that salespeople are these big gorillas that pat people on the back, play golf, and smoke cigars. Actually, they're not the best salespeople. The best salespeople are those who asked questions and listened.”

So, if you’re an introvert who thinks you’ll never be great at bookkeeping, remember this: The fact that you listen more than you talk will help you go a long way. Or, as Beth puts it, listening is an “introvert superpower”.

The Challenge of Networking as an Introverted Bookkeeper (and How to Overcome It)

Beth has had her fair share of introverted clients. And she mentioned that one of the challenges they face is finding their own niches. Now, it may not seem like such a big problem at first. But Beth said that finding a niche to work with is akin to finding a way to focus. And being an introvert means that there’s only so much energy you can use to socialize. So, you need to spend that energy wisely.

According to Beth, finding a niche is particularly helpful for introverts. It’s because it helps them plan their interactions better. And given that there are lots of ways to connect, niching down helps you focus on those that truly matter. If you have yet to get clear on your niche, Beth shared an important tip for this. She said you need to ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Who do I serve? 
  • What’s my message? 
  • How am I showing up in such a way that's not going to exhaust me?  

Ultimately, when you know your niche, you can use your energy wisely and network effectively.

Building the Right Approach

As an introvert, becoming good at networking may seem like a tall mountain to climb. And it might even feel like one of the most frightening things you’ll ever do in your life. The good news is that Beth shared these two tips to help you get more comfortable with the idea of networking. 

Tip #1: Adopt the Right Mindset

One reason why so many introverted bookkeepers fail at networking effectively is this: They think of networking as a necessary evil—a sort of chore they need to do so that sales keep coming in. Beth said having this mindset is problematic because it makes introverts lower their confidence even more. And they might even end up thinking along the lines of:

  • “I might make myself look stupid”
  • “I don't want to introduce myself; they wouldn’t want to listen to me”
  • “I don't want to bother anybody, so maybe I shouldn’t talk to anyone.”

So, how should you view networking, then? Well, Beth believes that you should view it as nothing more than meeting people. You can think about networking this way:  Whenever you network, all you’re doing is making connections and having conversations. Now, that doesn’t sound difficult, does it?

Tip #2: Set Goals That You Can Scale Over Time

To understand this tip, let me share an interesting incident that Beth shared. See, Beth’s husband had to attend a networking event, And he wanted her to go with him. Being an introvert, Beth naturally said no because it involved networking. She even made excuses such as that it was pretty late and she didn’t know the other people who’d be there. But her husband said something that changed her perspective on networking: 

“Look, if you come in, you already know me. The next time we come to this, you're gonna know two or three more people. And then the next time, you're going to know four or five more. And then, before you know it, you're going to know half the room! But to do that, you have to show up. And you have to trust that, over time, you’ll start to know more people and get comfortable with networking.”

That convinced Beth to join her husband in that networking event. And go to even more networking events after that. Ultimately, she learned a lesson that she believes every introverted bookkeeper will find helpful: Set goals that you can scale. 

What does that mean? For example, if you’re going to your first networking event, make it a point to start small by knowing one person. Then, when you go to the next mixer, make it a point to meet and connect with at least two, three, or four more people. And once you increase your goals bit by bit, you’ll notice that you’ll get more comfortable and be better at networking.

Don’t Let Your Introversion Hold You Back From Networking

The idea of networking can strike fear into the heart of an introvert. Yet, it’s vital to remember that this task is important if you want to scale your bookkeeping firm. But the good news is that no matter how introverted you are, you can still be great at networking. Beth Buelow’s story proves exactly this. And by following the tips she shared and using the right approach, you, too, can master networking. 

If you'd like to learn more about mastering networking, go ahead and: 


Michael Palmer

Article by Michael Palmer

Michael is the CEO of Pure Bookkeeping, the host of The Successful Bookkeeper podcast and an acclaimed business coach who has helped hundreds of bookkeepers across the world push through their fears and exponentially grow their businesses and achieve the quality of life they've always wanted.