How to network: for introverts

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I am a total stats nerd and really pay attention to traffic and incoming links.  It actually is kind of fascinating to see who finds the blog and how they get here.

Through this means, I noticed a whole lot of visits from a great blog post titled "How to network:  for introverts.", from Business Pundit.com. (This image is from that post)  Dave Rothacker put a link to my "how do you introduce yourself" post in one of the comments, so that alone has driven a bunch of traffic (thanks Dave!).

The article is great, and touches on an issue many of my introverted readers have … How do I get out there and market my product or service if I don’t feel comfortable with traditional networking? 

I personally think there is a real bias in the businessworld about introverts, since by common wisdom, the more loud, fast-talking and slick salesperson is seen as being a "better marketer."  Often, especially in the online world, the converse is true, with more people trusting the opinion of the more quiet, thoughtful, and detailed person.

There is also some confusion as to what the word "introverted" really means.  I like the definition I heard from a Meyers-Briggs training class,  which said introversion and extroversion are ways in which you get energized.  So an extroverted person would feel energized interacting with a large group.  An introverted person would feel energized spending time alone in deep thought, or in a one-on-one conversation with someone else.  Introverts are perfectly capable of delivering effective presentations to large groups and doing "extroverted" things … it will just sap their energy after doing so.

With that context, here are a few nuggests from the article:

  • Networking is an investment, not a nuisance.
    Imagine if you could always find what you needed in just 1 or 2 phone calls. If you are well networked, you probably can. By putting in the time to build your network, you save time when you need to get things done. Well networked people don’t have to waste time firing off random emails to people they don’t know, buying leads or industry lists, or hunting through hundreds of resumes for the right candidate. Pick your poison. Do you want to put in the time now, or later?

  • At first, you have to kiss a lot of frogs.
    Sometimes you have to start by picking events at random. You spend an hour in a very uncomfortable setting, but you learn what to go to and what to skip. Eventually you find a few people or events that you like.
  • Do cool things.
    Introverts typically don’t like to talk about themselves – we prefer to talk about ideas. Force yourself to discuss some of the things you’ve done. Don’t brag, make sure they are relevant to the conversation. Then the extroverts can talk about you and pass your achievements along. It gives you credibility in some circles. Yes, I realize you would rather be accepted for what you think and know, but the truth is that the world measures you by what you do.

Read the rest of the article here.

14 Responses to “How to network: for introverts”

  1. dave says:

    Nearly two years later Pam, and I still get a lot of traffic from your remarkable post.

    Not sure how I missed this the first time. I am a numbers person too. The following numbers appear to me seemingly everywhere I look: 51, 111, 1:11, 11:11 and 10:19. The number 10:19 goes back over twenty-five years. I first thought it had something to do with radio codes for I used to use this number frequently in radio communication. It took about fifteen years or so before I connected another meaning to it. It’s my birthday. It also happens to be the exact time that you published this post.

  2. Dave says:

    Networking is only of value when you meet with like minds. That way you all can learn and feed off of each other. Pick events that bring you together, not the usual ones where someone is trying to sell you something. Once you get with people with the same interests as you, your shyness will disappear.

  3. Why Enterprise Architects should discourage all fo

    A couple of days ago, an architect that I highly respect said something intriguing about me and my vast network on LinkedIn and how it may be detrimental. Figured I would analyze my …

  4. David says:

    It helped me to relax a great deal at work when I finally understood my introvert nature, both at work and in my relationships. I had always wondered why I felt like a party pooper or a square peg in a round hole. The best resource I have found is “The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World” by Marti Olsen Laney.
    Next I had to learn to “use my words” to say to people that I was exhausted and needed to rest for a while. All of my relationships got better when I started doing this. There were some who didn’t get it, and that’s life.

  5. Hi Pam, I stumbled across your blog through Blog Top Sites, you were on the first page of one of the tags, I can’t remember which one. I found this article about networking, and I love to network now that I understand what to do and when. I don’t agree that bragging is wrong. In every situation, there is something you can say about yourself that is bragging, but if in the context of the conversation, it will not seem like it. There is a wonderful book by Peggy Klaus about the art of tooting your own horn without blowing it. It is a must read for those introverts who find themselves in the back of the room at the beginning of “ok, find someone you don’t know, and find out 5 things about them”That used to scare the crap out of me. Now I see it as a golden opportunity to not only market my company (The Walton Group Inc.) but also myself. We are all salesmen for ourselves first, so we should know how to do it.

  6. Lulu says:

    Great blog. Thanks again….

  7. michelle says:

    great post! i love this topic and have written about it a lot (too). i think for people who tend to be shyer in group settings, attending a structured event can help — either a lecture, with pre- or post-lecture mingle time, or a luncheon where everyone is required to introduce themselves to the others at their table.

    even those round-robin speed-dating-eque networking events can help break the chill. yes, it can be a little hokey, but is it really any more hokey than standing around a bar and hoping to find someone to talk to?

  8. dave says:

    My experience sinks with your observation of introverts doing the large group thing. I had to do the president of an association gig and managed, but it did sap energy.

    There is practically nothing I enjoy more than connecting folks Pam!! The best part is when the seeker finds value and there is nothing but value here at EFCN. Hmmmm Pam, repeat that acronym a few times…wonder if we could get you on cable TV?

  9. erinh says:

    You are right about the bias in the business world about introverts. I work in marketing, and I tend to be more soft-spoken and laid-back than the average marketing or sales person, especially when I’m in a new job or situation. As a result I’ve been told sometimes that I seem “disengaged” or “not enthusiastic”, which isn’t the case at all. But sometimes perception is reality.

    As for networking, I think I am finding that it works for me if I am sincere about the connections and don’t force them. Now, I may have to force myself to go to networking events and go up to people. But if I try to force a network connection with someone I don’t really connect with, it’s not going to work for me. Sometimes you have to keep looking for someone you connect with. Kind of like dating!

  10. Duh, I’m reading his post right now and notice that he already brings up Ferrazi’s book… I agree with him that Ferrazzi’s entire book or system/style is not for everyone… but I think its a great read for people to get ideas and create their own style.

    I still remember my first few networking meetings where I’d sit in the back of the room and as soon as “they let us loose to meet people” I’d head out and drive home. A little shy, eh?

  11. Pam, this is a great post… but you knew I’d love it 😉 Shoot, I even have 2 categories on my blog, one for social networking and one for unsocial networking.

    I like to water it way down and call networking “building relationships.” I’m not impressed with someone that has a network of hundreds or thousands if they can’t tell me about anyone in their “network” (or better named “personal phone book”).

    I highly recommend Keith Ferrazi’s “Never Eat Alone” as a primer on the how and why. And if you want a tool to manage your network relationships, go check out JibberJobber.com (I just bumped up the free network contacts from 75 to 250 – so you can do a lot of relationship managing for free).

    Sorry for the shameless plug but I love what I do!

  12. I’m a classic INFP personality via the Meyers-Briggs test.

    That said, it has always been difficult to talk about my accomplishments as a filmmaker and much easier to create new ideas and possibilities for the next show.

    So the “do cool things” concept is dead-on.

    I have found blogging in the last few months to be an exceptional “tool” to express my accomplishments as well as create new opportunities where none existed before.

    Thomas R. Clifford
    Corporate Filmmaker

  13. Bridgette Boudreau says:

    I’m one of those introverted people Myers-Briggs describes. I can do lots of extraverted things, but then I need to go somewhere, be quiet and recharge. I’m not a big fan of networking events, but I’m with Justin, if you can find someone you know to go with or that you’ll know at least one person there, it makes it easier. Once I get talking with someone, I have a good time. It’s just the meeting people part that can be uncomfortable. I prefer to network by coffee dates. (I live in Seattle, what can I say?) I may meet someone from a professional referral or friend, and we have some shared interest — almost everyone likes to get out for a bit and chat over a nice hot drink. I don’t really like the word “network” because it implies something contrived to me, but “meeting and talking with people with whom you share mutually-beneficial interests and hey you might even make a friend” isn’t quite as pithy. 🙂

  14. Networking is not necessarily one of my favorite things to do, but it does work. The advice given here is terrific! When I speak with others about networking, all you really have to do is make one friend at the event you are attending. Make sure this person is a regular attendee. A good way break the ice is to ask them how many of these events they’ve attended. If they’re new just like you, that’s OK. Now you have a “networking buddy” to work the room with. When you meet someone, talk with them (not to them – big difference) and get to know them. Listen to them. When the time is right ask them if they would recommend someone else you should speak to that’s in attendance. It’s likely they’ll introduce you to someone else. Whoa! Now you have two contacts you have made. See how simple that is?

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