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But I'm an Introvert! - Networking Tips for Introverts AND Extroverts

| Flourish Monthly

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, navigating the world of networking can be tough. According to Forbes, the reason why so many introverts and extroverts dislike networking is they “view it as transactional. They think about buying a stranger coffee and then asking about their company’s hiring policies.” The key is to shift your point of view! This is why we focus so much on giving in our networking groups. If your focus is receiving business, rather than giving business or focusing on the relationship, of course it’s going to feel transactional.

Let’s get something clear: introversion has nothing to do with whether you enjoy socializing. Some introverts can even enjoy big parties more than some extroverts! The distinction between the two is where you get your energy. Introverts tend to get energy from being alone or with few people. They’re often seen as reserved, but that doesn’t mean they naturally are. Extroverts get energy from activity and other people. They are seen as outgoing or a “people person,” but that doesn’t mean they naturally are. Most people are a mixture of introversion and extroversion, known as being an ambivert. 

Thinking past focusing on relationships, introverts and extroverts may need to focus on different strategies. If you tell an extrovert to build relationships, they’re likely going to have few problems meeting everyone in the room! But what about everything past the introduction? If you tell an introvert the same thing, they’re likely going to meet a few people in the room but know more about the people they’ve met. Nobody likes to admit it, but networking can be hard no matter who you are! So here are some tips for introverts and some tips for extroverts.

Tips for Introverts:

  • Schedule time to build and recharge your energy. Consider keeping your schedule empty before and after your event so you can be at your best while you’re there. Or if you’re an ambivert and only need a little bit of recharge time, just put a buffer between things in your schedule!
  • Set some expectations for your event. What do you want to achieve? Is it reasonable? Instead of trying to collect as many business cards as you can, maybe your goal is to have one or two great conversations. Don’t forget to follow up after the event!
  • Listen more, talk less. Chances are, you’re already good at this! And great news: people like to be listened to. Be curious about the person you’re talking to and you’ll learn a lot about them.
  • Prepare some icebreaker questions. No, not the cheesy ones you’ll find at a party… just some things that might not be expected or are a little more fun. “What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?” “What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received recently?” “Where’s the best place to get a pizza in your area?” Be creative!
  • Embrace the awkwardness. Things will probably not go as you envision. That’s okay. Commit to staying for a specific amount of time, like 45 minutes, and having a minimum number of conversations. Chances are, others are feeling the same way you are!
  • Limit distractions. Yes, this means your phone! Resist the impulse to pretend you’re busy instead of talking to people. This can actually make people less likely to approach you at that event and at future events.
  • Have a post-event plan. What will you do with the pocket full of cards you collected? It’s okay to give yourself a day or two to recover, but make sure you follow up with the people you’d like to do business with. An email is great; keep it brief and remind them of a detail you remember about your conversation. Then suggest a next step.

Tips for Extroverts:

  • Follow the 60/40 rule. Listen more than you talk! Ask open ended questions and then show a genuine interest in the response. Resist the urge to jump into the conversation with a story about something similar that happened to you.
  • Stay focused. Really pay attention to the person in front of you instead of looking around for the next person you want to talk with.
  • Think before you speak. Extroverts are typically very comfortable around other people, which can lead to over-sharing. You know someone who does this, right? Sometimes it’s okay, or even funny, but sometimes it’s just awkward. Read the room and make sure your level of sharing will be well-received.
  • Watch your body language and voice. Maintain eye contact instead of scanning the room. Don’t get over-excited and speak too loudly. Pay attention to how others are reacting to you; that will give you a good indication of whether you’re communicating how you’d like to.
  • Be choosy about your business cards. Have a conversation first; then, if you think you’ll want to follow up you can offer to trade cards. Ask if you can give them your card and/or follow up. Be specific about how that follow up will happen. “I’ll email you later this week,” etc.
  • Watch for introverts! We tend to gravitate toward people we already know and like. But you have an opportunity to seek out someone who is uncomfortable or not talking with anyone. See someone standing alone or who is clearly new? Start a conversation! Make them feel comfortable and you might find your new best friend.
  • Have a post-event plan. No matter your personality type, you need to know what you’re going to do after the event. It’s tempting to think that because you talked to a lot of people, your time was successful. Not so, unless you follow up! Schedule a time post-event to go through the cards you collected, etc. and send those emails.

Networking can be difficult for anyone, whether the difficulty is talking to more than two people or exchanging only your name and tagline with everyone in the room. What’s important to remember is that no matter who you are, you can be successful at networking. Just play to your strengths, forge meaningful relationships, and follow-up afterward. 

If you’re looking for a place to practice these strategies and learn some new ones, we’d love you to join one of our networking groups! We’re more than just a weekly 7:30 am meeting. Flourish Networking’s mission is to grow every member’s business by developing relationships with other business people in the community and helping them grow, all while becoming a better networker and business owner in the process. Our meetings go beyond name and tagline by offering weekly training sessions as well as member presentations! Check out our groups here to find out more. We’ll look forward to seeing you there!

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