One of the greatest myths about introverts is that they don’t like people or enjoying talking. If you ever get me started on cycling, you will know that myth is definitely false. Unfortunately, due to the portrayal of several high-profile CEOs, there has been an expectation within many companies that all leaders are larger than life extroverts. Even worse, most of the “advice” for introverts is actually written by extroverts in an attempt to change introverts into less shy or “weird” people. This is a setup for failure. The goal for introverts at work isn’t to try to be someone who they are not.
The real key to success for introverts is to leverage the unique way you see the world and build a network of people who understand it.
This is the first of a three-part series called Introverts at Work, which is focused on helping introverts in three areas: Networking, Leading, Succeeding.
Nothing is more daunting for an introvert than walking into a large networking event, not knowing a single person and being expected to engage with other people. Introverts tend to recharge from solo time, and extended interaction with a large group of people tend to do the opposite. Instead of forcing yourself to try to meet as many people as possible, take a different approach.
Take a strategic approach to engaging with other people at the networking event. Search the room and try to find a person who:
Your goal for the event is to make a handful of really valuable, hopefully personal connections. These people will not only be able to put you in touch with businesses, clients, or future hires that will deliver, they can also become good friends in the future.
This leads me to the next piece of advice.
Do everything within your power to cement the relationship in the other person’s mind over the next few days. The best ways of doing this is to pick no more than 2 of the following:
While generally networking events are pretty easy to get comfortable with after some practice, there are a few things you want to avoid at all costs: