Most people are surprised to find out that I consider myself an introvert. While I have a big personality and a public persona, the reality is that I am more comfortable with alone time and if I had a choice, more often than not, I would pick staying home over heading out. I also favor small groups and my energy often gets drained from big events. That being said, I do consider myself adept at networking. So, how does an introvert like me network?
If you consider yourself an introvert, here is my approach.
Focus on One-on-Ones Vs. Events
If I am going to make time to network, I find that I am more effective in making direct connections than going to larger events to meet people. I use phone calls and Skype and when I have extra time, coffees or meals to get to know individuals. If we don’t have a pre-existing connection point, I always seek an introduction first so that someone can vouch that the connection is valuable from both parties’ standpoint. LinkedIn is a great way to find out if you have a direct connection to someone that you want to meet. I also let those in my network know the types of individuals that I would like to connect with so that they know who would be an effective connection for me (and of course, I always connect those that I think should know each other as well).
I have also used social media to establish a dialogue and over time, if that connection still made sense, then reached out for a more formal meeting.
For Select Events, Have a Plan
While I minimize the number of events that I attend, sometimes an event is worthwhile or I have to be there anyways, such as events where I am speaking or on a panel, etc. For these events, I map out a plan. I research who is likely to attend, which sometimes requires contacting the event organizer. I set goals for the individuals that I want to meet. This gives me a very specific game-plan going in and puts some structure around the event.
Nurture Quality Instead of Quantity
While having a lot of connections can be helpful, I favor making fewer, deeper connections than trying to connect with everyone and their brother. I make myself extra available and go out of my way to be helpful to those people who I believe are worthwhile connections. I don’t do it quid pro quo- I do it because I value the people and the relationships. Coming at those relationships authentically creates strong bonds and people that I can continually rely upon for business connections.
Are you an introvert? If so, how do you approach networking? Share below.