Let’s clear up a myth once and for all. Networking isn’t just for extroverts. Not at all. Many of my most savvy, valuable, and delightful friends and colleagues are actually introverts. I’m usually taken aback when they tell me this. What’s more, I may be known as a connector and networking expert, but I’m smack dab on the cusp of introvert/extrovert. I love being out with people, connecting and conversing. But there comes a defining moment where all I want is a quiet room and a NAP! What about you?
Whether you’re a straight-up extrovert who craves and is energized by people and good conversation or a confirmed introvert who shakes in your boots at the thought of entering a room full of strangers, here are a few tips that might help you understand and honor your uniqueness as a networker.
- Know your social / networking preferences and style. Are you an introvert, extrovert, or omnivert (a little of both, like me)? This awareness is important and will help you understand how you could react in various social settings. It will also explain why you feel a certain way when you are with (or away from ) certain people or situations. Taking The Myers-Briggs(R) is a great place to start. Check out this article as well.
- Honor your connecting style, the setting, and your intentions. Some people love to work the room and have shorter conversations. Others prefer engaging in deeper exchanges with fewer people. Neither is right or wrong. It just is. I suggest finding a balance and adapting, depending on the setting, your intentions, and your goals for any gathering you attend.
- Realize your connecting style can vary from day to day, situation to situation. I have days where I enjoy meeting new people and hearing all about them. Other days, I just want the comfort of familiar faces. Or I prefer to stay home and get some projects done. It’s okay. As a good friend told me recently, “Ride the wave.”
- Switch it up. If you’re an extrovert, make an effort to talk less, listen more. Be fascinated, not fascinating. I guarantee you will be remembered and loved for this. In contrast, if you’re an introvert, go out on a limb, be courageous, and prepare some conversation-starters. Then seek out someone who is off by themselves, looking a little lonely. You will be their hero. I did this recently and ended up in a fascinating conversatino with a very cool guy who regularly styles Sandra Bullock’s hair! Who knew? (Yes, he says, Sandra is as nice as they say.)
- Pay attention to and honor others’ connection and communication styles. A woman I met at a conference is a full-on introvert. She gets overwhelmed easily in social settings. You can see it in her eyes if you are paying attention. Knowing this, I am mindful to engage in a few words of conversation with her, then let her be. Initially I thought she just wasn’t very friendly. Now I know better. As for extroverts, sometimes I like to hang with them because they like to introduce me to people or it’s fun to listen to them. Takes the pressure off me. Other times they are just too much. But, again, knowing helps with understanding.
- Take note of your energy levels after an encounter, event or meeting. Ever left a conversation or meeting just totally exhausted? Or so inspired and energized you couldn’t wait to get back to your desk to implement something you learned? These observations will tell you a lot about yourself and the types of situations and people that are most suited for you.
- Pretty sure you’re an introvert? Don’t let yourself think you are less worthy in the networking world. You’re not. Check out this article from Forbes and you’ll see why.
What are you thoughts about introverts versus extroverts in networking? What are you? How does your style impact your personal and business socialization?
Have you read The Intentional Networker? I’m on a quest to have 30 reviews on Amazon by June 1. Can you help? Simply go to my book review page on Amazon, sign in and write a few lines on what you thought of the book, how it has helped or changed how you view networking. I’d appreciate it!