Posted by Adam Blanch on 27 May 2014
You know you’re an introvert because the term “networking” creates pretty much the same response in you as the phrase “root canal”. Networking is something that extroverts do, isn’t it? Those loud, annoying people who wear flashy suits, talk about trivial things, laugh stupidly and say things like “I must introduce you to my broker”.
We all know that networking is something we should do. Networking is good for your career. Networking will help you get what you want. Right?
What if I told you that introverts make the world’s best networkers, once they get the hang of it? I’m not saying that it’s comfortable to begin with, or even all that enjoyable for cave-dwelling personality types. But a little know-how can open up whole new worlds to introverts, and no one will ever know that you’d rather be home reading War and Peace.
How? By turning lemons into lemonade. Some of your introverted personality features actually make for great networking skills.
Quiet please, I’m listening
Introverts don’t fill the air with chatter; they wait for the important things to be said, and then they become interested. This means that they are great listeners, and people love to be listened to. All you have to do to turn this into networking gold is to learn how to ask the right questions.
When a networking opportunity presents itself, don’t start by asking your target the big questions about the meaning of life. Slow down. Just ask about their kids, their holidays and their hobbies. At first, this type of small talk may seem a little dull, but once they know you’re really hearing them, they’ll open up like a flower and suddenly everyone’s having fun.
Give them the gooey bits
Introverts often love sharing their inner world with people. This is an advantage because networking is about building relationships, and that takes trust, which in turn requires vulnerability. Again, wait a bit before you relate the story of your childhood dreams or exciting ruminations on the life cycle of tadpoles, but give people a chance to take an interest and your patience will be rewarded.
Quality not quantity
You don’t have to shake a hundred hands an hour – just set yourself a goal of talking to three new people at any event. Statistically, at least one of them is another introvert, and then you’ve met a kindred spirit. Three quality connections will yield more rewards than a thousand fleeting moments.
Some of the world’s best networkers are introverts, Barack Obama, Benjamin Franklin, Mother Teresa, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were all introverts who became masters of communication by working with their personality type instead of against it. You can too!
Looking for more information on networking? Read our article on Common networking mistakes (and how to avoid them) or watch our video on Effective corporate networking.