Sheza Firoz |
5 mins read
March 17, 2023
Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert? The answer to this question can be found in your answer to another question: Do you find Professional Networking exhausting and stressful? If you do, you fall toward the Introversion end of the spectrum.
Busting the Myth - Are Introverts Incapable of Socialising?
- Unlike popular perception, Introverts are not chronically shy or averse to socializing. They have the ability to communicate, connect and develop meaningful relationships like anyone else.
- What sets them apart is their dislike of loud, long, and boisterous events chock-full of people. These areas are outside their comfort zones, and they prefer quieter and shorter interactions with people.
- While Extroverts prefer to be surrounded by people all the time, Introverts would choose quality over quantity in their interactions.
- Often, they are exhausted after a heavy bout of socializing and need to recharge their social batteries with some alone time, leisure, and self-care.
- This is in heavy contrast to an Extrovert, who derives energy and life from heavy socializing. They enjoy the spotlight, are thrill-seeking, and enjoy long talks with others.
The bottom line is that Introverts do socialize with their peers and form connections - just not the way that Extroverts do. The biggest blunder an Introverted Professional can make is to imitate an Extrovert, or mirror their characteristics. The Introvert’s success lies the other way - rather than trying to become the life of the party, adapt your networking strategy to your greatest strengths.
Introvert or Extrovert - Why bother with Professional Networking anyway?
Networking is an indispensable resource to the modern-day Professional. It offers them the following advantages that help them stay on top of their game:
- Seeking Employment Opportunities: As a Professional, having contacts across your industry offers the chance to hear of new and exciting opportunities before anyone else.
- Getting Valuable Insights from Industry Experts: Exploring a new field can be intimidating, but with a valuable friend in the industry, you gain insights from a reliable source.
- Checking into Potential Candidates for Hiring: Contacts from other industries can be a valuable source of information, especially when it comes to verifying the credentials and skills of newcomers.
- Opening Yourself to Opportunities: As a service provider, you can earn clients when your contacts in other industries recommend your services to them. This can be even more impactful than direct marketing.
- Attain Increased Exposure: The more people you know, the more people will know you. Consistent networking can earn you more visibility in a crowded competitive space.
So How Can An Introvert Network?
“The trick for Introverts is to honor their styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.”
-Susan Cain, Author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Introverted Professionals can thrive in Professional Networking settings by adapting their networking strategy to their personality traits. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Social Media is Your Best Friend:
- For the Introvert seeking to limit in-person networking, Social Media sites like LinkedIn are great alternatives to socializing events.
- Researching professionals who you are interested in connecting with, and sending them a private message for a meet-up is far more personal and memorable than exchanging business cards.
- With Social Media, you have the added benefit of networking on your own schedule and comfort zone, as opposed to networking events.
- Listening like a Pro:
- Introverts, by nature, are great listeners. They can be thoughtful, introspective, and sensitive to the emotional changes/needs of the person before them.
- As an Introvert, remember to listen, ask questions and offer input when networking. You can make a great first impression with your curiosity and insight.
- These qualities can help you form deeper connections and lasting relationships in the industry.
- Using your Contacts to Network:
- Since people form networking relationships for a rainy day, it makes perfect sense to use your connections to…connect!
- Ask your colleagues to introduce you to any professional in their circles. This is more beneficial than fishing in the middle of a crowded networking event.
- Why? Because your colleague knows your personality and professional interests, and so will reasonably connect you to a like-minded Professional.
- Quality over Quantity:
- While Extroverts may be able to go all-out and amass hundreds of connections, an Introvert’s strength lies in the quality of their connections, not the quantity.
- If you have managed to form close relationships with a few professionals, these may serve you far more than a hundred surface-level connections ever might.
- While you can and should slowly widen your circles, your expertise lies in maintaining and nurturing existing relationships - so choose your contacts wisely.
- Recharge Yourself:
- Introverts need to fall back and reload after a heavy bout of networking - be it in-person or online.
- As you schedule networking sessions, remember to follow them up with some well-deserved me-time.
- Be it curling up with a good book, going for a walk in the park, or simply unwinding for the night, make it as non-negotiable as networking is in your life.
Remember that Introversion is not a weakness, nor is it a liability. Introverts simply function differently, so don’t let an Extrovert’s world shame you for your special personality. Capitalize on your differences, and you will thrive.