Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Networking for Introverts

On the Myer Briggs Personality Test, I rank as an Introvert.  I know, I know, you who know me, can't believe it.  But it is true.  I like my private time and in fact need it to recharge and I'm better one to one than with a crowd.  Those are just two indicators of the truth!  My friend, Jenn Wenzke, So Now Coaching is
going  to explain all this to me someday soon, because she is accredited in using the test.

When I talk with groups about networking basics, I always chat a little bit about how as a introvert, I am totally uncomfortable in the setting they are all sitting in; the big group.  Usually before I present, if I can, I do go around and meet people, but I have to push myself out of my very comfortable, comfort zone to do so.  At Lourdes University, there were many MBA students in my audience when I spoke in November of last year.  That made me even more uncomfortable,  because they have way more education than I. 

But every time I do talk about the tricks that I employ to make networking in large groups easier for me, someone comes up afterwards and thanks me for helping them with that very issue.  So here are a couple hints for all the "innies" of the world. (And I'm not talking about belly buttons!)

1.  I give myself a job at the event, usually a host.  That way I am doing my job, not attending a networking event.  It is just a little mind game but it works for me.  As the host, I find people who are just as uncomfortable as I and help them to ease into the situation by introducing them to other helpful people.

2.  I set an easy goal to achieve at the event.  I usually want to meet two new people and schedule later appointments with them.  When I achieve my goal then I feel good about myself and those endorphins helps to ease the discomfort, too.

3.  After I have reached my goals, I allow myself to socialize with people I know and also partake of the beverages and food.  So after I have pushed the walls of my comfort zone out a bit, I then can play in the safe space.  My reward for the hard work I've done!

Alright all you introverts, out there, what can you add to this?


Kate Oatis said...

Also an introvert, Debby. Dislike crowds. Love to talk with people one-on-one or in small groups. Dislike small talk. Love thinking about going home to a good book. Run out the door at the earliest opportunity. And, yet, I love people and listening to their stories. Another good tip, I think, is to simply focus on the other(s). Everyone could use a hand. And, one of my favorite things in the world is to make connections for people. Just told a young Arab writer on Twitter about an opportunity in Britain for a residency -- and he's going to apply. THAT makes me feel great. So, keeping a focus on others at these large networking events does help me. Thanks for the post. From one introvert to another, rock on!

Debby said...

Kate, that is so funny. I spoke to a group of MBA students on Friday and driving there I felt very tired. It was also raining. I wanted to go home a curl up with my book, too. But the students were really engaged and I felt so energized when I left. Good lesson for me!