An introvert can’t go networking, can they?
A common misconception is that only extroverts can go networking as their outgoing personality and ability to talk to anyone is ideal for a networking group.
Why would an introvert, by definition a shy reticent person, want to put themselves in an environment where they are encouraged to chat to strangers and to be perceived as outgoing and social?
Well introverts may not want to go networking, but they actually make good networkers. Their personality traits include an enhanced ability to listen attentively to others, to maintain focus during a conversation and to be interested in other people, rather than focusing on themselves like an extrovert would. They don’t feel the need to be the centre of attention, or to constantly try to sell something which doesn’t always work well for an extrovert (or anyone else!).
How can an introvert make attending a networking event more bearable? Here are a couple of ideas that may help;
- Go to an event with an extrovert you know so they can pave the way until you find your feet and feel confident enough to join in conversations yourself.
- Try and arrive early so you don’t feel vulnerable going into a busy room where everyone is already involved in a conversation.
- Have a few open-ended questions ready to get a conversation started, something simple like “What is your job”, listen to what the person is saying to you and don’t feel the need to fill awkward gaps in the conversation.
- If it’s possible, try finding out who will be attending in advance. You can then do some research on the ones you might feel it beneficial to meet. Most people are on LinkedIn and you can view their profile in advance and prepare a couple of key facts to ease a conversation with them.
- Be ready to respond to questions that people may ask of you such as “What is your job”. If you have a simple response prepared in advance you won’t become tongue-tied.
- Set yourself a time limit for staying at the event.
- Have an escape plan in place in case you find yourself stuck with a bore, you might want to excuse yourself to go to the toilet or to get another drink.
Don’t forget that there will be other introverts in the room feeling the same way who would enjoy listening to you too! You are not alone – 1/3 to 1/2 of the world are introverts and they always network well together.
If you or your team are struggling to get the results you should from your networking, perhaps we should talk?