If the thought of meeting lots of new people and prospects makes you cringe, here are a few tricks to minimize the pain.
1. Find intersections
Figure out where your current interests and activities meet with those of people who aren’t already in your network. For instance, when Linda Hill, a professor at Harvard Business School, wanted to learn more about Japan, she sat on the board of her local children’s museum.
“Our children’s museum has a Japanese house in it and events associated with the house attract many of Japanese descent or with expertise about Japan,” she says. “Through this intersection of my personal and professional lives I cultivated a rich network of people who opened doors for me in Japan and were willing to share insights about working there.”
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2. Do what you’re already doing
But, says Hill, spend 10% of your time differently.
“If you go to a board meeting,” she says, “don’t sit next to the person who brought you onto the board, sit next to someone different every time.” The same is true for conferences.
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3. Leverage extroverts
If you’re not naturally gregarious, let those who are help you develop new contacts. For instance, when Hill networks at conferences, she makes a point of sitting “in a highly visible location where I know everybody will walk by. And I sit with people who I know will attract other people.”
An introvert’s guide to broadening a network