An introvert is a person who has a preference for calm, minimally stimulating environments; and who has a tendency to feel drained after socializing.
Generally, introverts regain their energy by spending time alone.
There is a continuum of introversion to extraversion and we all appear somewhere on the scale, and our level of introversion can change, depending on our environment or what else is going on in our lives.
Probably the two most misunderstood things about introverts are that they are shy people, and less likeable than extroverts.
Some introverts are shy. Some are not.
Some extroverts are shy. Some are not.
And some people, no matter their temperament, are simply more likeable and delightful to spend time with than others.
Now let’s talk about introverts and networking!
This is the time of year when there are likely a lot of end of year functions and events you will be invited to attend. Some of them you might immediately want to attend and others.. not so much. My advice is to go with your instincts here.
To be clear – being an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t go to networking events.
Introverts can be good at networking, and you can enjoy networking events – you probably do! Introverts are typically great listeners and therefore curious by nature.
Social events are (usually) actually quite enjoyable and introverts are typically quite sociable humans, you just need to prepare yourself mentally more than your extroverted colleagues.
Networking in a large group setting.. like a Christmas function, for example, can be a challenge for introverts who have a tendency to feel overwhelmed in large groups.
At its most very basic definition, networking is about building relationships and having great communication skills.
While it’s important to spend time with your friends and colleagues, the loud, crowded environment typical of networking events can send the introvert brain into dopamine overload which depletes our energy reserves and may increase levels of anxiety. Even if it’s an event you are looking forward to attending.
With the right preparation, networking can become a really enjoyable experience.
Here are some tips to preparing yourself for networking this Christmas period if you’re an introvert:
1. Know why you’re going to the event:
you don’t have to accept all the invitations you receive. It’s important to spend time with your colleagues but if you prefer to spend one-on-one time with people make arrangements to meet your colleagues for lunch or a coffee.
2. Find other ways of networking than big social events:
Not all networking requires in-person attendances. There are various social media channels that provide great opportunities for building relationships.
3. Be mindful of your schedule:
I’m not sure about you, but if my schedule is filled with back to back meetings, or events several nights in a row, I can end up feeling like my cup is empty. That usually means it not only takes me a few days to recover from, but decreases my ability to be fully present with my children. So I try to schedule quiet days without meetings before or after an event rather than having a full schedule during the day AND the event.
4. Understand when you’re at your best:
If you are a person who functions at your best in the mornings, that’s the best time for you to attend a networking event.
5. Before you go to the event, think of questions you can ask in conversations:
For example, “what are you working on at the moment”; “what do you most enjoy at work”; “what was the best thing that happened to you last week”; “what are you most looking forward to next year”. If all else fails, ask “why?”
6. Be brave:
Join in conversations as you enter a group of people..introduce yourself, and then refer to point 5!
7. Use your superpower:
Many introverts are excellent listeners and it’s a wonderful opportunity to gain the most insight into the person you’re speaking with.
8. Look for meaningful conversations:
It’s okay to attend an event and only engage in meaningful conversation with only one or two people. You’ll most likely find the experience far more rewarding and mentally stimulating!
If you meet someone new, and you enjoyed your conversation with them, follow up with an email or linkedin message in the days that follow the event and maintain or develop that connection further.
For those of us who live on the “quiet” side of life, it’s okay to say no to an invitation to attending every single event, you just need to find the way that works best for you.
I’m curious to know what is your best networking tip as an introvert?