In response to your query: How can introverts successfully network?
Take a business etiquette course.
One way to overcome your personal shyness to help you successfully network is to take a business etiquette course. I did this years ago. I am what is known as an extroverted introvert, meaning that I can be gregarious but strongly prefer to interact with a few or one-on-one. These courses are available as continuing education courses at many local colleges. (I took a course at Georgia Tech.)
What such a course teaches you are all the protocols. When you are introverted, you lack confidence in the social arena. Knowing what to do in nearly all situations builds confidence and allows you to relax, quit second guessing yourself as in “I hope I am not bothering him / her” and speak up.
Pursue what you like – example, speaking.
Another way to step outside your introversion is to think of what you really like to do and do that on some level to start. For example, you may find it hard to work a room, but you have speaking skills. If so, you can pursue no-fee speaking engagements ( associations, groups, etc. Hundreds of opportunities to speak exist). When you speak, you are seen as the expert and people approach you after you speak; this means you don’t have to go to them. If you are afraid of speaking in person, you can join Toastmasters to shore up your speaking skills and overcome your fear.
Alternatively, you can “speak” online via webinars or Google Hangouts. If that scares you, you can start as a helpful participant on webinars that are a part of your continuing education. Share comments and your email address with people in the “chat area” when allowed.
I continually stress that, as a business owner, you don’t need to be good at everything. As you build a business with $20 – $50 million or more in revenue, it’s significantly more important that you be a great generalist and know what you’re good at and what you’re not. When you know this, you can hire specialists and delegate to existing employees who have acumen in a particular area.
If you are an introvert and loathe business networking, you can simply hire someone in a business development role or move another employee currently occupying a sales or marketing position into the business development role. Have that individual attend business events and network on the company’s behalf. You’ll reap the same benefits.