If you ever meet John you’d take him for a hard working guy that likes to have fun. He is an introvert by nature that has succeeded at embracing networking. John is one of those guys that can pick-up the phone and bring more work in the door in one day than others do in a year. He has learned to succeed at networking not by perfecting his elevator speech or by collecting business cards, but through the knowledge that developing one strong relationship is better than developing a thousand acquaintances.
For years we have been told that extroverts are better networkers than introverts, and there is no doubt that would be true if networking was about getting more business cards than your competition. But networking isn’t about business cards; it’s about building relationships with the objective of helping others, knowing that as you help others they will in-turn help you. It is time we re-evaluate how we network and learn a few lessons from introverts on networking.
Introverts on Building Relationships
Relationships are the foundation of networking. Introverts and extroverts alike have a God given instinct to develop relationships. The difference is that introverts have fewer relationships, but those they have tend to be more meaningful than those of extroverts. Surprisingly, this innate focus on relationships is the primary thing that stifles extroverts’ success when networking. Introverts succeed because they concentrate on a small select group of relationships that are positioned to make them succeed.
Who would you rather network with: an introvert that is devoted to building a relationship with you and is constantly looking for ways to help you be successful, or an extrovert that knows everyone and treats you as just one of many?
Introverts on Helping Others
While relationships are the foundation of networking, helping people is the objective. For an introvert it is easy to focus on helping a small group of people by providing leads, referrals, information, and ideas to others. Extroverts may think they are helping hundreds of people, but in reality they are failing to focus on the key relationships that are poised to make them succeed. This broad approach leads to mediocre results, because it is strong relationships that truly become mutually beneficial. To succeed at networking, an extrovert needs to likewise develop a small group of key relationships.
Introverts on Small Groups
Why only focus on a small group of people? Because networking succeeds when it creates a sense of obligation and urgency between two people. When someone provides you with a lead or referral you have an innate desire to help them in return. If they provide you with ten leads and ten referrals a month, now you have developed a healthy obligation to help them. Most people perceive an obligation as a bad thing, yet introverts know that a strong sense of obligation is beneficial to developing a networking relationship. It creates urgency as both people work to help one another. The obligation that is developed by helping someone will keep you in the forefront of their mind, and them in the forefront of yours. As a result, both parties benefit as the relationship develops and they are actively motivated to help one another.
Success is based on your plan, not your relational tendencies
You are not going to succeed at networking just because you were born an extrovert. It is time to sit down and write out a list of your top ten key relationships that are poised to help you succeed. Then take those top ten relationships and start focusing on introvert networking; that is developing meaningful relationships with each of those people and focus on how you can help each of them succeed.
Article published in the June 2007 Edition of SMPS Marketer