Networking for Introverts: Tapping Into Your Strengths
There’s no shortage of networking posts on how to “work the room” and make the right connections. If you consider yourself an introvert, there’s a strong chance you’ve never read past the first paragraph on one of these posts. Good thing networking for introverts isn’t as challenging as you might think.
Fast Company recently posted 7 wildly successful people who are considered introverts – Barack Obama, Marissa Mayer, Warren Buffett, Guy Kawasaki and Zuckerberg to name a few.
@suebob You may find this hard to believe, but I am an introvert. I have a “role” to play, but I fundamentally am a loner.
— Guy Kawasaki (@GuyKawasaki) August 11, 2008
If there’s one common trait that naturally makes introverts great networkers, it’s their ability to create meaningful relationships by listening, connecting and communicating with someone on a deeper level.
As our team focuses on helping professionals grow better business relationships, here’s 3 ways I’ve learned that networking for introverts is easier than you think:
Networking for introverts: focusing on the right people, at the right time
There’s not enough time in the day to hope that you’ll cross paths with people you need to meet. And there’s no reason you need to meet with tons of people every day. Luckily networking for introverts becomes easier when you focus on a few important people at a time.
If you’ve read any of our past posts, you’ll know how much we love using lists to get things done. Regardless of why you’re networking, a list of people who align with your goals is always a great idea to set your focus.
You now have a manageable list of people who could potentially help you achieve your goals, faster.
Networking for Introverts: finding a shared interest, your best-kept secret
Even if you consider yourself an introvert, you can use modern networking techniques to your advantage. One area of networking that introverts fear most, especially at events, is trying to start and hold a conversation. It just doesn’t come naturally.
Luckily there are sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook where you can learn a lot about someone’s interests, hobbies, passions, etc. Most people enjoy sharing and having others engage with their posts when it’s something they care about.
This might sound a little “sketchy” to some, but it’s exactly what employers do. In fact, 80% of employers search for you on Google before inviting you for an interview. As an introvert, it’s important to do your research before you reach out.
Find out a few things about this individual that you also have strong opinions about so that it’s easy to start and hold a conversation. Now you know a few things about this person you want to chat with, it’s time to reach out.
Networking for introverts: reaching out to start a conversation
Most people think that having a large network is the key to success. However, it’s becoming clear that those who are able to grow their network with strong, authentic relationships reap the biggest rewards. This is where networking for introverts becomes interesting.
“Actually, I don’t believe it’s the size of the network that is important. I believe it is the quality of the relationships and your ability to make authentic connections that most greatly impacts your true worth.” – Porter Gale
This is why introverts can become amazing networkers – they can focus on the right people and learn to develop meaningful relationships. Rather than trying to force your weaknesses, you can leverage your strengths.
Depending on how much research you’ve done or who you’re trying to reach, here are a few modern networking techniques that play to an introverts strengths:
- Help share your contacts’ social media updates – everyone needs a little help.
- Respond to your contacts’ social media updates with your own opinion – it’s a great conversation starter.
- Reach out if you notice a relevant article about a contact – look for company or personal mentions in the news.
- Leave thoughtful comments on blog posts if your contact publishes their own – people want to know their content is engaging.
- Respond, Like or Retweet on Twitter – it’s an easy way to get on their radar before you reach out.
As you can see, there are many ways for introverts to network given all of the tools available to us. Regardless of how you go about networking, there’s always a way to naturally start the conversation.
Do you consider yourself an introvert? How do you leverage your strengths to build authentic business relationships? Let us know in the comments below!