4 networking tricks for introverts

networking2If networking leaves you wiped out and praying that you’ll “never have to do THAT again”, you might be an introvert.

Introverts lose energy interacting in noisy, over-stimulating environments and recharge with solitary activities and quiet time.

Extroverts lose energy spending time alone and feed off the energy of social environments and interactions.

A common misconception is that shyness and introversion are the same thing. Shy people avoid social interactions because of fear of judgment while introverts may simply be disinterested in “wasting energy”. And none of us are 100% introverted or extroverted, so next time you RSVP ‘yes’ to an opportunity, try these tricks to keep you happy, healthy and sane—

  1. Pick a time you’re at your best

Are you a morning person? Maybe a networking breakfast would be to your benefit.  Do you feel more invigorated in the early evening? Try meeting for happy hour with colleagues.  Since you may be psyching yourself to be on your game, pick gatherings during times you have the most energy and skip those at times you already feel drained.

  1. Choose an activity

If the thought of designated networking events sends your skin crawling, you can control your energy level and make natural connections by participating in activities that you already enjoy. Try taking a class or joining a coed sports team. While at work, you can get involved in a workgroup or committee that interests you, participate in a Wellness challenge or attend an event like Pizza and Politics or Soapbox Poetry.

  1. Listen

So… small talk can be tedious. Luckily, introverts have keenly developed listening skills. Use that power. Try focusing on a single person in a one-on-one conversation and ask questions. You’ll likely discover backstories and gather valuable information. Bonus points for your thoughtful responses, which shows interest and allows both you and the other person to feel like a connection has been formed.

  1. Make time to recover

Be kind to yourself and make time in your schedule to recover from the energy drain networking can be. If you’re attending a conference without scheduled breaks, plan ahead for when you can recharge with some “me-time”. Take a relaxing walk or coffee break between sessions, enjoy a nap in your hotel room before dinner or research an excursion you can enjoy after the conference.

While at work, try to group your meetings on one day and plan a dedicated work day to allow yourself quiet time to recover and focus. This will help from getting worn-down from several energy-draining days in a row.

Thinking about networking as more than forced, awkward interactions can help you build your social circle and reap personal and professional benefits, so dust off your business cards and make networking work for you.

References and additional resources

How Introverts Can Network Without Losing Their Minds
Networking for Introverts, Harvard Business Review
Top 5 Networking Tips for Introverts

Sponsored by the Interpersonal and Group Communication Action Team. Members include Blanca Aguirre, Judy Allen, Erika Coker, Reshone Dean, Jim Eustrom,Meghan Gallop,Julie Huckestein, Joel Keebler, Doc Plaisance, Terry Rohse, Alba Scholz, Stacey Wells and Art Witkowski.

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