The Myth: Introverts and Networking Don’t Mix
It is a widely held belief that introverts and networking do not mix. I would have to disagree with that particularly if the view is through extrovert eyes. It may be true that introverts may not “work a room” by meeting, greeting and exchanging business cards with everyone in the room. However, there are a few ways that introverts can make networking work for them.
When networking, introverts have to figure out what will work for them and their personality type. Networking is not a one size fits all event so what works for an extrovert, may not work for an introvert. Check out my chart-topping networking for introvert tips.
Type of Networking Event
If the networking event is such that seminars, workshops or breakout sessions are being held, then I am all in for this type of event. Consider this: usually everyone will be sitting at tables or even stadium-style seating so there will be a few people carrying the conversation. This means that all you have to do is contribute occasionally or not at all and won’t feel responsible for keeping the conversation going.
Another benefit of this type of event is that you get to learn something from the venue. Even if you do not meet and engage with a single person, at least you will walk away with some good information that you can use. From that standpoint, view it as information gathering and not networking. As a bonus, you get to meet a few new people and stay in their company until YOU decide you’ve had enough.
Who Is Going to Be There
Let’s say there is a highly publicized networking event and that there will be a few people whom you’d like to meet or at least introduce yourself. Again instead of going to the event with the notion that you have to engage with everyone there, go with the intention of meeting the one, two or three people with whom you would like to connect. My personal opinion is that once you’ve done that, you have essentially “worked the room” and you can easily walk out saying “I worked the heck out of that room.”
Work the Room While Working the Room
Now this has to be the number one show stealer of networking for introverts: Volunteer for the networking event. Think about it, you get to meet almost everyone that walks in the door without the anticipatory anxiety that stems from long-term engagement.
By volunteering you get to meet, greet, pass out and get business cards and then redirect the guest to someplace else. How cool is that?
There’s even more fun ways for introverts to network. For more tips on introvert networking, check out this video with Mario Forleo interviewing the introvert champion and leader of the Quiet Revolution, Susan Cain.