I enjoy social media as much as the next person but I mustoccasionally “adult” and venture out into the real world and actuallymeet people. I realize it’s a foreign concept and against new societalnorms but it’s valuable to make real connections with our peers, sonetwork we must.
This post is for my introverts. An introvert is defined as a personwhose energy is depleted after interacting in a group or crowd. Anextrovert walks away from parties and social gatherings feeling rebooted and re-energized. The term introvert has been mistaken for “shy” butthat’s not what it means. Introverts are also seen as having bad social skills but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We just differ inthe way we communicate.
In a previous job, the company I worked for lauded extroverts. Theyput them on a pedestal. The company felt as though extroverts werebetter suited for the job and more in alignment with the values of thecompany. As an introvert, I felt the stigma of being branded with an “I” on my forehead. I still believe they had separate feasts for the extroverts that introverts weren’t invited to.
People who know me in real life refuse to believe that I’m anintrovert. I can be the life of the party and I can get pretty loud inthe right setting. A former coworker even told me that I must’ve “failed the Myers-Brigg test” when I scored as an INFP. My social media channels also don’texhibit any signs of introversion, however, as I get older I becomeslightly more of an ambivert. An ambivert is someone who can switchbetween the two worlds .
I am a self-diagnosed social media junkie. The best part about social media is that I can do it from home in the comfort of my bed in pj’s,unlike peer-to-peer networking. Both are necessary to succeed either inthe corporate world or as entrepreneurs.
I’ve learned a few things in the last 8 years of working in corporate America and as an entrepreneur that have helped me work a room withmore confidence.
Here are 5 tips to network like a boss while introverting (I made that up btw).
- Purpose of Attending – Before you attend anetworking event or meeting you should have a purpose in mind. Is yourgoal to meet specific people? Is the group or meeting in alignment withyour current values and mission? You should ask yourself these questions as not to waste your time or anyone else’s. That may sound harsh butyour time may be better served elsewhere if it doesn’t line up. It maybe tempting to RSVP to every event that comes calling but I would advise against it. Introverts should save energy for the functions we mostwant to attend.
- Do Your Research – I always research organizationsand events beforehand. What is the sole function of the organization? Is it a referral network or non-profit event? Some organizations even list the members right on their website. At the very least, you will findboard members and those in leadership positions. It would be beneficialto know who they are and their roles. You should also take note of thegroup members’ occupations and hobbies, if listed, as a way to engage in (non-awkward) conversation. If you know a member or an attendee, havethem make introductions. Most introverts struggle with this not becausethey are shy or can’t communicate but because they are out of theirelement.
- Be Prepared – I’m a pretty prepared person bynature but I have been off my game before. It happens to the best of us. Just as recently as yesterday I attended a meeting for the 1st time and didn’t take enough business cards. There were over 50 peoplein attendance and maybe only half received business cards. Fail! Out ofthose 25 people, surely 2 could have used my services. I have since put a fresh stack of business cards in my car. Being prepared will relieve some anxiety and boost your confidence in any setting.
- Know Your Elevator Pitch – This falls under theumbrella of #3 but it’s important enough to stand on its own. Theelevator pitch can be nerve-wracking for anyone but especially for anintrovert. If you are attending an event for the first time, you cancount on people asking who you are and what you do. It shouldn’t come as a surprise. The best way to get around this is to practice, practice, practice. Keep it short and sweet. Write down the 2-3 key points you want theattendees to remember. Maintain good eye contact and posture. Kill it.
5. Force Yourself To Network – I made a promise to myself when I did my SMART goals this year that I would attend at least 2 networking events each month as apart of my professional development. As an introvert, it’s a great wayto get out of my comfort zone and hold myself accountable. I will search for 2 meaningful or beneficial events or meetings each monthand step away from the computer. Now that I work from home it’s moreimportant than ever to meet new people and engage in a real way.
I hope these pointers resonated with those of you who are introverts. I know networking can be intimidating or overwhelming but it doesn’thave to be that way. My goal for this year is to continue to push myself to new levels by making connections with people who are in similarrealms as I am. The people you meet and things you learn are invaluablefor personal and professional development.
Are you an introvert or extrovert? Do you enjoy networking events or stay away?