I’m just thrilled at the number of fellow introverts who have introduced themselves to me through this blog, especially those who also blog about introversion. “Quiet Keith” is a recent visitor whose blog is titled Introverted Success. When I stopped by his blog, his post Why Introverts Hate Networking Events immediately caught my attention, since networking is one of my favourite topics.
As an introvert who has been self-employed for six years, I can absolutely relate to Keith’s comments and agree with most of them. I’ve been to a few networking events where I slipped out as early as I could because I was overwhelmed by the crowds and the activity, and because I felt I’d already taken part in as many conversations as I could manage. However, I’ve been to many more where I was among the last to leave. This is how I’ve made networking less painful:
- Choose smaller, more structured networking events. I’ve found that breakfast meetings work well for me. For one thing, it’s usually a smaller group than you’d find at after business cocktail party-type events. With less time devoted to “mix and mingle,” instead of choosing between a series of brief interactions or being a wallflower, I can engage in an extended, and often meaningful, conversation with the person next to me. In addition, since many typically aren’t “morning people,” the chance of getting inundated with sales pitches is minimized.
- Don’t play the numbers game. A lot of people (probably extraverts) try to exchange business cards with as many others as possible, but I don’t see this as true networking, which is about forming and building relationships. Instead, I make a point of catching up with people I already know and introducing myself to a couple of new people. If I don’t feel like talking to someone, I don’t. I consider it a big deal if I come home with three business cards. After all, for us, it’s not about the quantity but the quality of the relationships.
- Plan in advance what I want to say. This applies especially to my 30-second self-introduction. Being prepared helps to eliminate some of the anxiety around having to stand up and introduce myself.
There are lots of other networking tips for introverts on this blog, so if you hate networking like Keith does, I hope you’ll find some suggestions that will make it tolerable, and maybe even enjoyable!