Networking, whether in the course of seeking new job opportunities or simply for career growth and professional connections can be a challenging process for even the most extroverted individuals. For introverted individuals though, networking can be nearly impossible and the networking process excruciating. Networking has a bad rap. Individuals are usually hindered by misconceptions surrounding networking and its benefits, as well as their own self-protective barriers. But before you conclude that networking is not for you, it’s important to consider the immense benefits of networking. As humans we naturally thrive on social interactions with other individuals and as such networking is an important tool in business interaction. Building relationships in business is extremely crucial. Moreover networking creates an opportunity to meet new individuals who may provide avenue for expanding your business. It also create an exposure for your business, skill and values. Moreover networking makes it possible for you to meet individuals that can contribute immensely to your career growth and progression. This underscores the need to master the art of networking whether you’re an introvert or extrovert.
The Misconception of the Introvert, Extravert and Networking
Contrary to the common misconception that Introverts are not social, the fact is that sociability has little to do with an individual’s personality. Instead it is a behavior, which means it’s not genetically ingrained in your DNA, but it’s a learned habit. Generally, the art of networking involves connecting with an individual on a deeper level.
Although the way and manner extroverts and introverts go about this may vary, the bottom line is that relationship building is something we all do. Researchers from Wellesley College pointed out that Introversion is not really a function of how social an interaction is, instead it focuses more on whether the interaction is emotionally rich, mentally stimulating or engages our aesthetic or artistic sensibilities. Introverts generally prefer deep stimulating conversation and as such the small chit-chat at networking events may be draining. However, this perceived preference can actually be an advantage when it comes to networking. Psychology and other social sciences researchers implied that individuals generally prefer relationships that have more than one context for connecting with other people. This is usually referred to as multiplex ties.
Social scientists as well as network scientists have come to the realization that multiplex relationships between individuals significantly increases trust based on the premise that these individuals have more in common and as such there are more opportunities to exhibit trustworthy behavior. Moreover, there’s a high possibility that new ideas will be shared. Introverts are better suited for this. Perhaps because they enjoy deep conversations and because they’re good listeners and tend to be more interested in other people than about talking about themselves. So it’s interesting to note that Introverts may be more excellent at networking as opposed to their extrovert counterpart. There are effective measures you can take to make the networking process less stressful and possibly more natural. Keep the following tips in mind:
- Be ready to engage. Dress appropriately for the event, smile and be approachable. Non-verbal communication usually leads to verbal communication, so endeavor to put on as it were a friendly, confident demeanor. Don’t be engrossed with your phone or hide behind your drink. A smile, eye-contact and a firm but warm handshake are all strong non-verbal signals that invite conversation.
- Initiate dialogue. You can start with simple questions that are not too personal to get the conversation going. Be open, show sincere interest in people you’re conversing with and offer genuine compliments. Prepare your elevator speech before hand, but deliver it as naturally as possible and conversationally. Of course, you want to provide captivating information about your business, skills and values, but remember that you should also be ready to listen and engage in a way that enables establishing a real human connection.
- Network with intention. Of course, you don’t have to network all the time. Having said networking is hugely important. Networking affords you the opportunity to build and foster relationships that last for a long time. Look for something that suit your particular style and something that you’re most comfortable in. For instance, you can start with small networking event and then work your way up from there. You can start by initiating one-on-one meals. You can also utilize other networking channels to get started. Online networking sites like Twitter chats and LinkedIn offers an excellent opportunity to connect with your colleagues and industry experts.
- Be bold. Everyone enjoys talking about themselves, be a good listener and you might be surprised by what you hear. A good listener stands to gain the most insight and at the same time do not shy away from digging a little deeper. A meaningful conversation can be both mentally stimulating, and at the same time memorable. There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t ask personal questions like where an individual is from, what they do, hobbies etc. Personal questions can help you establish common grounds and forge a real bond.
Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, networking is human because it is about building relationships, we’re all human. Networking is collaborative. At some point you will need people’s help and they will need your help as well. Be ready to leave your comfort zone. Introduce yourself, get to know people, listen and ask questions. Focus on building a strong network that will add value to your organization and contribute to your growth and reputation as an individual.
Christopher is the Chief Value Officer and Founder of Change My Life Coaching and Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching and the Healthy Transformations Weight Loss & Inflammation Reduction Program. Change my Life Coaching is a fast growing whole-life, leadership and business coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind. He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”. Christopher spent 15+ years working in the corporate world with a plethora of industries and companies. His focus was primarily in planning, strategy, and leadership of change management and communication. Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker who truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him at Christopher@ChangeMyLifeCoaching.ca.