Do you secretly feel euphoric when an office party gets cancelled? Tried to cut short conversation with strangers while flying by pretending to read the in fight magazine or menu?
If yes, you are a normal individual who prefer small intimate settings over crowded social gatherings. Turns out, between one-third to a half of all people are like you (Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain).
So, let’s cut to the chase – how do introverts network?
Make it a reason, not an excuse
Err on the side of saying ‘Yes’ when invited to a networking event. Most introverts do not commit. It is either a ‘Maybe’ or ‘Let me think about it’. When you say ‘Yes’, you are willing to reach out.
Every time an occasion has come my way, I have tried to wrangle myself out of it. Maybe, I secretly and unconsciously take pride of the fact that I am an introvert. I know, there is absolutely no logic to it but it has been my way of justifying why I don’t mingle or network. It’s pure defence, I recognize that. Well, that’s not good enough anymore.
It can’t be used as an excuse anymore. In fact, if anything at all, it is a reason for us to go out and meet or at least reach out to others. Social distancing has gone on for long enough now.
The power of one
When you think networking; does it scare you or exhaust you?
When I think of networking, I, invariably think of a large crowd with loud people. That is so tiring but It doesn’t have to be that way. Change the image in your head. Baby steps; start with one. One meaningful conversation. One coffee meet or a lunch. If you enjoy it, build a chain. Invite others you may know who has similar interests. Play the host. I particularly like to play the host because it puts the onus on me to make people comfortable and get conversations going. I enjoy that. Try it. You might enjoy it more than you imagined.
Quality not quantity
Turn your weakness into strength. Sure, it’s not easy for us to start conversations. So, ask questions. Listen. That’s what introverts do well. In fact, the most interesting person in the world is the one who makes the other person feel like he or she is the most important person in the world.
Talent without context
Granted, we don’t have the spontaneity of an extrovert but again, they have been doing it forever. For us it’s a talent they have. For them, It’s a skill that they have nurtured long enough. Talent is, after all, just skill without context. If we persist long enough, pretty sure, we will be talented enough to hold our own in any group.
Power of being positive
Self talk helps. It also destroys. What is the story you are telling yourself? Also, you probably can do with a little less pressure. Join a group, a webinar or attend an event for the heck of it; not necessarily to get or give something. Sometimes, the experience in itself will be worth it. And in the process if you do get something, that’s a bonus, now.
Set a goal
You don’t have to network everyday but putting a number has helped me connect with far more people than I believed I could have. Ironically, the lockdown has increased my network far more than before because it probably is easier to do so virtually from the intimacy of my room. I put aside one hour everyday to send invites, comment on posts, share my thoughts and post my articles. It’s a habit that I have cultivated and I am quite enjoying it these days.
Networking is a skill and while some of us are naturally more inclined towards it; most of us can develop it.
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