For years I have watched with astonishment as many of my introvert friends have excelled at social/business networking. If you read most books on networking, (there are hundreds of thousands of them) you continually see information that is geared towards extroverts: how to work a room, how to effectively meet new people, and what to do at association events. The problem is that these thoughts are great, but not necessarily for introverts! By embracing who you are as an introvert and working your personal strengths you can see more success from your network than most extroverts. The secret is to focus on who you are.
Start with Who You Are
Let’s start with two obvious facts: 1) Just like extroverts, introverts are ‘pre-wired’ with a need for relationships. 2) Relationships are foundation of Networking. Based on these two facts it is easy to see that introverts should be able to easily succeed at networking, if only someone would tell them how to do it! You’re in luck, here is the secret:
Learn the key to Networking
With all that has been written on networking I am consistently amazed at how rapidly the central idea behind networking is overlooked. Networking is nothing less than focusing on and helping other people. When we help someone else once, it creates an innate and positive response. When we help someone three times, it creates a desire for them to help us in return; and when we help someone a dozen times, they have a healthy desire to help us in return. The great thing about real networking is that it creates mutually beneficial relationships where two people are consistently looking for ways to help one another. The key to this happening is concentrated effort on a specific group of people that over time develops these multiple mutually beneficial relationships.
The Introvert Advantage
Introverts are natural networkers because they have a tendency to focus on a smaller number of relationships. This same concentrated approach can be developed by extroverts, but it is very natural for an introvert to develop a strong core of relationships that can feed them opportunities and information.
Taking the first steps to start networking
To start networking as an introvert you need to take two first steps: 1) recognize that networking is nothing less than helping other people without expecting anything in return and 2) identify a core group of people (More than 10 and less than 20) that would fit well into your network. For example, if your business was marketing for an architecture firm and your best friend is an astrophysicist, they are probably not the right person for your business network. Then start networking by continually helping that group of people, you’ll be amazed at what happens as others start returning the favor.