If you don’t like making smalltalk and you struggle with networking then Maria Granovsky has some great news for you. Introverts can have great networks too. So whats networking for introverts all about?
About Maria Granovsky
Maria Granovsky helps professional women who hate face to face networking build successful careers through network via social media.
This subject is near and dear to Maria. In the past, she found herself driving to a networking event, not getting out of the car and driving right back home. It was social anxiety.
She had always been able to create relationships via writing, via LinkedIn or Twitter or email. After a while, Maria realised that she had found the way to network that was really comfortable for her.
Which made her consider all the other people, who for one reason or another are not networking. There are a lot of people, with a lot to contribute, who are not in a conversation. Maria’s aim is to bring those people into the conversation. Networking for introverts.
What is networking and why is it important to us?
Networking is the building of relationships. Getting to know other people. Building connections.
Networking has got a bad wrap, because of the idea that, you go to networking events, you exchange cards and everyone is in it to see if they can sell you. But, in reality networking is about the people you know. Especially in todays’ economy, where so many of us are in flux, jobs are insecure, it is really important to know a wide variety of people.
Every job Maria has had, came with the help of someone she knew. Be it directly, handing her resume (CV) to the person in charge, or recommending a really good head-hunter.
Even more broadly than that, unless your goals in life are to be a hermit, and to subsist on rainwater and berries, you are going to need the buy in from other people. So, if you want to:
- Publish a book
- Change careers
- Get a promotion
- Get a seat on the board of a non-profit.
The worst thing you can do is to put yourself into a position of HAVING to know someone to achieve your goals. “Who are you again?”. If you want a referral, a recommendation, the referee needs to be able to know you in advance.
If we are no-good at networking, what’s the first thing we should do?
Maria advises that we should EXPLODE the first myth. That you are not-good at networking. There are very few people who are congenitally incapable of networking. If you survive family holidays, if you have friends, if you have wooed a romantic partner, YOU CAN NETWORK.
We ascribe a very different meaning to business relationships but realistically they are not that different.
It’s all about:
- Give and take.
- Thinking what the other person may need or want.
- Being agreeable as a person.
The rest of it is technicalities. Technology has made it very easy to meet with other people. Just as we are doing on Skype right now. We have never met before. And prior to the conversation, we had a back and forth via email and Maria got a slight sense of Graham’s personality. Enough to get on a call and not be quite so shy.
The original connection was made by our friend Marina Darlow. Maria met Marina on LinkedIn and eventually they spoke on Zoom. Here’s Marina’s profile: http://vision-framework.com/about/
Do you help men too?
Maria tends to work with women, they tend to have a few issues with the way they communicate. They have been socialised to avoid being aggressive.
If you get an email from a woman and it starts “I think maybe…” – Maria suggests it is NOT that she’s unsure, but she’s often been socialised to think that if she started with the FACT, then it would come across as aggressive.
These are the linguistic quirks that give many women a disadvantage. As they are not seen as the experts that they are. They are not seen as being absolutely certain of what they are saying.
Especially in networking, these are the verbal ticks that you can take out when you are writing. Then you have the time to think about what you said. How you said it. Edit, etc.
How do you help professional women?
#1 Assess where it is you are right now.
Firstly, Maria starts out figuring out what is a person comfortable doing. Some of us are comfortable in small groups, some with public speaking – it’s still not that one-on-one interaction. They can put on a show, but they don’t need to have that personal interaction that makes them uncomfortable.
Other people are comfortable in writing.
Just like diet. The best one is the one you’ll keep. Maria could advise you to reach out to 15 people on LinkedIn every week, but if that’s not your modality, then you are not going to do it.
#2 What do you want?
Your goal. Changing careers, achieving a promotion. Depending on the goal, the strategy is going to be very different.
For example, changing careers.
How do you start? If you’ve worked in Government your entire career and now you want to move into bee-keeping. You plan to start a major endeavour in bee-keeping. So, how do you even start?
Who are the people you might want to talk to? Biologists. Bee-Keepers. Medical Experts (because you want to create a new bee that doesn’t sting and you want to understand the issues around venom). All of these people are now available. Because of social media. LinkedIn or Twitter. Email.
The thing is we are all using social media as a platform to talk. To tell our story. We DON’T think of it as a connecting bridge. And as a way to meet someone else and really push their information out.
Doing that has 2 bonuses. When everyone is shouting into the void, no-one is being heard. You NOTICE the people who shares or retweets your material. And that person becomes your friend. More or less.
The base of the strategy is: BE GENEROUS
Show the other person’s expertise. Add a little comment. Now, you are associating yourself with that expertise. Perhaps relating to bee-keeping. Now it is out there in the world and it has an opportunity to attract other people who are interested in bee-keeping.
That’s how you build planned serendipity into your strategy.
Maria hands out templates to her clients.
Maria notes, that having a strategy on social media is NOT MANIPULATIVE. Connections and relationships have to be organic. Well, yes. They’ll develop, the way they’ll develop. But a strategy acknowledges that there are only so many hours in the day. We are just maximising the possibility that we will have something in common with the person we are connecting with.
Maria’s templates are therefore pretty open-ended to stress the relationship with the other person:
- I read your article and I really enjoyed it and I would love to connect.
- I’m connecting because we are both X or Y.
It’s all about the commonality or the reason why you are connecting to that particular person. And being GENUINELY appreciative about what that other person is bringing into the conversation.
The templated message is really just a conversation starter?
Yes, that’s exactly what it is meant to be. If it’s ignored… We have done our job.
Templates help people who are shy. If you use a template that gets you 80+% positive responses, that one brush off, non-respondent, you aren’t going to sit there for 2 hours saying what have I done wrong. What’s wrong with me, how could I have said it differently?
Alas, that’s what a lot of people do. They’ll spend time doing that.
That’s why Maria encourages her clients to STANDARDISE their messaging, to avoid that sense of uncertainty on the back end.
Another option is to see which approaches YOU like when people wish to connect with you. Adapt that one.
Networking for Introverts – The LinkedIn Formula
Either, I read your article, or I noticed your update, PLUS why I enjoyed reading this, PLUS, I’d love to connect here on LinkedIn.
Or, your profile came up as a suggested person to connect with and I found your work really interesting…
The whole point of the template is to THINK about the reason why you are connecting. And put it out there.
Once you have got that connection – what’s the next step.
Depends on what the purpose is. Relationships have a way of deepening or becoming acquaintance like. It is amazing how few touches you need.
Keep the conversation going a little bit. Then get on the phone or Skype.
Maria advises this strategy…
Interview other people. Maria says sometimes there is resistance. That you’ll take up way too much time. But she reassures that most people in the world have never been interviewed. It is such an honour.
Basically, what you are saying when you ask for an interview, is that:
- I have noticed you
- I have noticed your expertise
- It is really worthwhile to talk to you about it
- And I want to write it up.
That’s a huge commitment of resources on your side. That is heard as very flattering. And a huge boost to an ego.
Out of the people we have asked to join us on The Next 100 Days Podcast who have failed to show, it is below 5%. And that is Maria’s experience too. For this strategy to happen, it HAS to be genuine. That is what Maria keeps stressing.
Don’t go try to interview someone because they are famous. Interview them because you find them genuinely interesting.
Cynthia – on Maria’s website – “I have a high resistance to “selling.” Working with Maria, I’ve learned that it’s not about selling, but rather about consistent and authentic relationship building.”
This is about a process. The interview is key. Back and forth to set it up. Back and forth after the interview. Hey, your live. All these touch points build a relationship. The next time, you might take the relationship forward.
It is an unusual tactic.
An interview could be a LinkedIn post, a blog. It’s a concentrated conversation. You are really getting the connection or not. When you are, it’s because the interview is GENUINE.
When the article is written up, you can scan the interview quickly, scan for the question you are particularly interested in and consume the article effectively.
Writing is Maria’s deep passion. There is something to be said for your format being EASILY CONSUMABLE and ARRESTING and an interview will easily do that.
With non-responders, should you follow up again?
It depends. If the person is really important, Maria suggest following up via email or some other modality. You will find lots of people on LinkedIn who will do a similar role, so this person may not want to connect, but there are all these other people that will.
Maria – Ph.D. In Molecular Genetics, a Law Degree and an Author http://www.mariagranovsky.com/about/
You have to consider having control over your space. Listen to Krystal Covington podcast – a confirmed introvert, so she set up her own group that she was comfortable being a part of – Women of Denver.
As opposed to performing ‘random acts of networking’, Maria is really a Direct Response Networker. Networking with track and trace. Where you have control over your space, you can keep a handle on consistency and time.
Building a network can take time. Even clarifying a goal.
The people who are going to win are the people who’ll stay in the race. Not a large network of poor contacts, but a small network of rich contacts.
Don’t get trapped in thinking about the wrong metrics. Number of followers. Engagement. If we are no seeing giant numbers, we think we are not succeeding.
Use the metrics that pertain to your goal. Getting a job versus selling services. You need strong connections. Consultancy, it is difficult to do more than one at a time. A pool of potential clients rather than a river of likes and comments. The river flows right by you.
Shift to Inbound Marketing
Attracting people to you magnetically. Maria is happiest, when she writes stuff and people respond to it.
What is the connections tipping point?
It depends on your strategy for nurturing the relationships. More numbers amplify. Nurturing one-to-one – you have a limit on your time. Maria doesn’t have a giant LinkedIn number (600-700). She has acquired two clients – no footprints in the snow from articles. Super fans.
Law is on the back burner right now. Maria is fascinated by helping people get their rightful due, simply because they are not the ones doing all the talking.
How can people learn more about Maria Granovsky?