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How to network when you are socially awkward

Don't just wallow in the corner and wait for someone to talk to you. Reach out to others and take advantage of the networking opportunity.
By Te-Erika Patterson |

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When you're socially awkward and your social calendar shows it, setting goals like starting a business or leading a movement might seem impossible.  How can you possibly waltz into a crowded room and leave with a dozen business connections if you can barely look a stranger in the eye?

 

Relax. There is nothing wrong with you. You don't have to change who you are.

 

Just because you can't thrill a crowd with witty banter doesn't mean you aren't fascinating. In fact, you may be brilliant. Don't talk yourself out of trying to start your business just because you heard somewhere that an effective business leader must be a social butterfly. 

 

You don't have to play by the old rules: This is the digital age. Break the rules and become a digital butterfly instead. When you create authority with your digital presence, it will speak for you even when you're tongue-tied. Check out these four ideas:

 

Related: How introverts can power through networking events

 

1. Join online groups for professionals.

Do you think that just because you're the only person you know who is interested in creating life-size dolls, say, that there aren't others out there equally as fascinated by this?

Find them by searching hashtags or doing a simple web search. When you introduce yourself, you will learn things that would have taken you years to discover on your own. And the best part is you will never have to go sit outside alone in the car for 15 minutes to recover from a socially triggered anxiety attack. 

 

2. Create your own community.

It's not easy to socialize when you're following the social standards set by someone else. Why not go out on a limb and create your own community that welcomes people in areas related to your field? 

Create a Meetup group, a Facebook group, a Google Plus community or even a Reddit thread so that like minds can find you.

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Related: Shy people tend to have this coveted leadership skill

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3. Host online webinars.

Organizing a webinar that invites leaders and shining personalities from your industry to share their knowledge is a great way to network without having to schmooze.

You can even invite one of the masterminds you admire to be the host of the event while you manage the back end of the project. Invite participants by using your best communication tool: email.

This communication tool was created to help everyone communicate more efficiently. Don't let anyone lead you to believe that communicating by email is a crutch when you know that this tool helps you represent yourself in the best way. 

 

4. Create a digital-media platform.

The very best way to stay in the loop and relevant in your industry is to create a digital-media platform. A website, blog, video channel or podcast that consistently provides value to your industry is a significantly strategic and brilliant endeavor. 

When you create a digital platform that showcases the best ideas and innovators in your industry, you will attract bright minds who will want to know and befriend you without having to meet for cocktails.

Busy entrepreneurs will make time for you because they appreciate being celebrated for their efforts. You will earn the right to stand among the best without ever wondering if you fit in. You will fit in when you learn how important it is to create a place for yourself.

Related: 5 benefits of being a misfit entrepreneur

 

Copyright © 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editor. 

 

Photos from Flickr (CTEP AmeriCorps)

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