Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel at the 2012 PRSA Mid-Atlantic District Chesapeake Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Our session, “Never Leave Home Without a Business Card,” was well-attended… and full of introverts.
A little known fact about those folks who prefer solitary activities: they make excellent networkers.
Of course, introverts–like those who attended our panel–likely will tell you they hate networking. Yet, once they put themselves out there, Introverts often are more effective networkers than we extraverts for three reasons:
1. Effective networking is about making genuine connections: though an extrovert will breeze through a room, talking to every stranger and walking away with 30 business cards, the introvert prefers a home base/bar stool and one meaningful conversation. Often, this one-on-one time is more memorable and meaningful to both parties than the 30 lightning-fast introductions the extrovert made. The introvert’s connection was genuine and memorable–the cornerstone of effective networking.
2. Effective networking is about listening: we extroverts will talk to a brick wall, and often struggle with our effective listening skills. An introvert isn’t going to speak unless she has something meaningful to say. Most of her “networking” actually is “listening,” which means she’ll likely remember the details of her network–including names, companies, where she met each person, etc. The detailed memory/listening factor is a great reason every extrovert should take an introverted buddy to each networking event. If you only knew how many times observant introverts (like my husband) have saved me from embarrassment just as I was about to introduce myself to someone I’ve met five times.
3. Effective networking is about matchmaking: the key to being an effective networker is to realize it’s not about you. Each person you meet should trigger the “who do I know who needs to know this person?” reflex. Since the majority of folks walk into the room thinking, “what can these people do for me?” they are dime a dozen. But running into a genuine connector who listens to you, offers up a thoughtful suggestion and introduces you to a helpful new blog–that’s a memorable networker. Often–because of the aforementioned skills–that person also is an introvert.
It doesn’t matter if you are energized by crowds or exhausted just thinking about them. You, too, can be an effective networker, once you put yourself out there!