Do you identify as an introvert? You’re certainly not alone. Estimates vary, but some sources say between 25% to 40% of people are introverts.
In the world of networking, being an introvert isn’t always a coveted personality trait. When it comes to meeting new people, in networking situations and in general, extroverts are generally more comfortable. Sometimes, this comfort with social situations translates to getting better business results.
If you want to improve your networking skills as an introvert, what are you to do? Rest assured you don’t have to change your entire persona and pretend to be someone you’re not. These three tips will help you turn your introvertedness into an advantage in the world of networking, rather than a perceived drawback.
The answer can be both, but it’s important not to conflate general social skills with introvertedness. The generally accepted main difference between an introvert and an extrovert is where they get their energy from.
Extroverts feed off of social situations. Talking to individuals or groups of people is like taking a shot of espresso. They feel good and they’re in their zone. However, when they’re by themselves and lacking social stimuli, they can easily lose energy quickly and not feel their best.
For introverts, the opposite is true. Introverts recharge alone, and talking to others can expend their energy quickly, making them feel drained. This natural balance generally leads to introverts being less sociable—but it doesn’t mean a lack of sociability is an inherent trait of being introverted.
Therefore, if you’re an introvert, you’re not intrinsically at a disadvantage to extroverts who handle social situations differently. You just have to approach networking, and social situations, a little differently than extroverts do, which the following tips will help you with.
Why do extroverts seem to be so comfortable networking? Maybe some of it can be chalked up to genetics, but it’s disingenuous to think that all social people were born being social butterflies. Rather, it’s more likely they have simply socialized a lot in their lives (due to naturally enjoying it, and feeding off it energetically), which means they’ve gotten plenty of practice. And everyone knows that practice makes perfect.
What about you? As an introvert, conversations with strangers might not be your cup of tea. It’s unlikely that you will naturally socialize as much as an extrovert will. Since being sociable can drain your energy, you may even look to actively avoid it. That means less practice, and less social acumen.
If you want to get better at networking, it’s simple—you just need to practice.
That means when you’re getting a cup of coffee from your local coffee shop, you can exchange a sentence or three of small talk with the barista rather than just placing your order. If you see someone who’s dressed nicely, you can go up and give them a compliment, rather than holding it inside like you usually do.
What’s key is to start the conversation—something that introverts are generally significantly less comfortable with than their extrovert counterparts. It’s important to take control so that when you are in a networking situation where sociability matters (such as at a networking event), you’re able to get the results you want proactively, rather than waiting passively for others to talk to you, and leaving it up to luck.
Over time, starting small conversations everywhere you can will become completely natural. The energy drain will be minimal at most, and you’ll find that you can eventually talk to anyone, anytime—even without a clear prompt on how to start the conversation. With enough practice, people might even see you as outgoing—despite your introverted nature.
Once you’ve broken the ice, the real fun begins—the two of you can have a full-length conversation. Lengthy conversations aren’t always appealing to introverts, especially because introverts are statistically more prone to anxiety than extroverts are. Keep these three tips in mind to keep the anxiety at bay and come off as your usual delightful self.
Formulaic conversations aren’t interesting, but that doesn’t mean you need to completely improvise every networking conversation you have. Having a few questions or topics of conversation to fall back on is a great way to make conversations flow more smoothly.
Arguably more importantly, these social assets will give you confidence and help you let your hair down, because you know you can make any conversation flow more smoothly if you need to.
For your conversation closer, you might hand the other individual a paper business card—if you want to be completely ordinary and blend in with the dozens or hundreds of other individuals the other person will see that day.
A better solution is next-gen smart business card technology like Mobilo. Just tap your Mobilo card on any smartphone and your contact information will automatically populate into a contact entry in their phone. The other individual just needs to tap “Save”!
Mobilo makes you unforgettable, and that’s not even considering Mobilo’s many unique features that make networking more effective and efficient, like automated followup with 2,000+ CRM integrations, or saving hundreds of dollars per year on paper business card costs.
Just because you’re an introvert doesn’t mean that you’re naturally worse at networking than extroverted individuals. You just need to take a slightly different approach:
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