Guiding Career Transition

Networking Tips for Introverts

By in Guiding LifeWork Transition

half shy

I am an introvert.

 

Networking has been a challenge for me throughout my career and is often a substantial barrier for my more introverted clients.


In the next few posts, I will be offering some “tips and tricks” that I have found effective for maximizing networking opportunities, working with introverted “strengths” and finding success and even enjoyment at networking events.


And, for all you extroverts out there – you will likely find these tips helpful, as well.

 

Networking Tips for Introverts

 

Introverts need to network like Introverts, not like Extroverts.

 

  • Quality vs Quantity 

Introverts need to set goals to make 3 – 6 “quality” connections vs 30 – 60 “quantity” connections

An anecdote:  I once worked with a very extroverted CEO who would set a goal at networking events, to collect “as many cards as possible”.

I would identify a much smaller, focused goal – i.e., 4 – 6 quality contacts who shared or complimented my focus in training and curriculum development.  In the end, the CEO and I would realize equivalent business development results from networking.

 

  •  Introverts get their energy from the Inside-out; Extraverts from the Outside-In

Extroverts get and stay energized much longer, from interactions with others – their “miles-to-the-gallon” is much higher and efficient than an introvert. Extroverts will  tend to run much longer and with more energy, than an introvert, in networking events.

Introverts get our energy from quiet, and internal reflection – we are more like a ” ’67 Chevy” than a “Prius”, when it comes to “gas mileage”.

As a result, introverts need to strategize before, during and after networking, to ensure our “fuel tank” is full before we begin, and we need to make time to re-fuel before we use up our energy in the midst of engaging in networking activities – the risk of “running on fumes”-  a common challenge for many introverts.

Examples of re-fueling can include:

  • taking breaks at a networking event by stepping outside,
  • going to the washroom,
  • finding 3 – 5 minutes for a quick breathing/meditation or
  • just sitting in a quiet space…can re-energize and re-vitalize.

 

  •  Conserve Your Energy – Let the Extrovert “Break the Ice” 

Introverts often find it is difficult and can take a lot of energy to initiate the first contact – it can be helpful to begin “working the room” with an extrovert, letting them break-the-ice.

Or approaching a group already engaged in conversation, as a warm up.

An oft suggested tip for introverts is to approach someone that is alone, and appears more shy than yourself.  This can backfire either because the interaction becomes so engaging you do not want it to end or it becomes awkward and difficult to disengage from the other individual,  like getting stuck on tarpaper. Either way, spending too much time with one person, negates the goal of networking.

 

  • Focus on Realms of Interest

Introverts are best when with people who share their interests and areas of expertise – and can do very well networking in both professional and personal realms where we can be around others with whom we can have quality engagements and more naturally, “open up”. If the group does not resonate – move on to one that does.

 

Look for more tips in upcoming blog posts – and feel free to contact me: sjallen@lifepluswork.org for more resources, information and coaching to discover your potential whether you identify as an introvert or extravert or even a bit of both.

Posted by: Susan Jewkes Allen, MSW, GCDF

San Francisco Bay Area Career Counselor, Career Coach at Life + Work