There’s been a lot of talk about introverts lately, signaling that the global financial crisis also heralded the dawn of another era, for a new kind of leader. Introverted leadership has been highlighted throughout the crisis, as well as in its aftermath, thanks to the precious few industries that managed to sail those troubled waters successfully, all of them helmed by quiet industrious types: IT and tech, innovation, etc.. On the one hand, it’s important not to glorify either personality type; both extraverts and introverts have their strong suits and their downsides. On the other, it’s pivotal to distinguish between introverts and shy individuals – while introversion is a type, shyness is a behavioral pattern which can be amended. Yet, at the end of the day, though introverts seem to be gaining momentum in the current professional world, many of them are still struggling with the social demands of the current job search model. If you belong to this category and would like to improve your odds at a promotion, read on for our 7 tips and tricks on professional networking for introverts.
1. Learn about your peers
Before a social networking event, your high anxiety levels will probably peak, as you wax and wane about going or not. Sure, you could take the easy way out and stay at home, or you could focus on your strengths for professional networking for introverts. One of your most probable strengths is thoroughness and depth of research. So attend and go prepared – make it a plan to find out as much as you can about who’s organizing and the other attendees.
2. Nurture relationships
Professional networking for introverts will sound daunting, cold, and pressuring. Yet if you focus on what such events are all about, which is relationship building, you’ll find it’s not at all hard to make a good impression. As an introvert, you are perfectly adaptable to a social scenario that involves getting to know someone better and understanding their nuances. That’s what it’s all about!
3. Ask around
If you’re worried you don’t really know anyone at the event, there are two things you can do to help yourself out of a potentially awkward situation. They both involve asking questions. First, ask your circle of professional acquaintances whom you should introduce yourself to, or even ask them to help out with a recommendation. Then, at the event itself, don’t shy away from asking your hosts to introduce you to someone they would feel is relevant to your background and interests.
4. Focus on similarities
Professional networking for introverts can become stressful if you focus on what sets you and everybody else apart. If you choose to look at the similarities, however, you will probably cope better. What was it about this particular networking event that brought both you and your professional peers out there that evening? What’s the common denominator between you all? Focus on that and you’ll surely find topics worth broaching in conversations.
5. Don’t be too goal-oriented
Remember the point made above, about how professional networking has everything to do with relationship building? Remember that, instead of trying to alleviate the pressure by making it a point to meet someone ‘useful’. Such a mercantile attitude is never appreciated, since it can strike many as dishonest, materialistic, and petty. Really get to know people, don’t just wonder what they could do for you.
6. Follow up
The rule of thumb that any career mentor or sponsor will deliver on post professional networking event follow-up is to make a plan to get back to someone, unless, of course, you really clashed with them or discovered you have nothing in common. Such cases are rare, though. Most of the time, you’ll find that it’s very useful to get to know people better post-event.
7. Accept differences
Understand that not all relationships established at a professional networking event are supposed to develop into something meaningful, relevant, and long-term. Most people will remain acquaintances, to whom you say ‘hi’ and with whom you can always pick up where you last left off at the previous event. Whatever you do, don’t get hung up on perceived socializing failures. Unless some major blunder was involved, it’s perfectly natural for some relationships to develop better than others.