A Networking Challenge for Introverts

When I deliver presentations on the importance of networking, I sense some people aren’t comfortable. This is because the act of networking isn’t for everyone, yet everyone needs to grow and nurture their networks for their business and career.

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Susan Caine, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, has a wonderful online quiz to determine whether you are an introvert or extrovert.  

Regardless of whether you are an introvert, ambivert, or extrovert, you must connect with others to live a rich life. I like to compare networking to dating and job interviews. Nobody likes job interviews, but you must show up if you want to get the job. Most people detest first dates because they are awkward and stressful. But plan for a life as a single person if you refuse the first date. Networking is as important as dating and interviews.

A Networking Challenge for Introverts

Networking as an introvert can be especially daunting. Showing up to a mixer and finding the energy to mingle can be far from easy. My advice to those who are introverted is to set yourself some goals before attending. I promise my little challenge will be easier than you think.

The Time Goal

Most networking events and networking time at conferences is between one to two hours. Instead of attending for the whole duration of the event, plan to spend only minutes there the first time. Set yourself a goal of twenty minutes. Set the timer on your phone and have it vibrate in your pocket or purse when the time is up. That timer gives you permission to leave.

The People Goal

We have all arrived nervously at networking events where we didn’t know anyone. We spend a few moments floating across the floor only to arrive at the exit and slip away like a ghost. Whoosh!

Just like a tango dance, networking takes two. Set yourself a goal of meeting just one person at the next event you attend. You have twenty minutes to find and speak with just one person. It could be the event organizer, a sponsor, or a fellow attendee. Ask them what brought them to the event to get the conversation going.

Be sure to follow-up with the person you met after the event. Apologize for leaving early and explain that you had somewhere you needed to be. You needed to be out the door after twenty minutes… so it’s not a lie.

Next Time

For the next event you attend, increase your time goal to 30 minutes and people goal to two people. Follow this by 45 minutes and three people. Quality over quantity is always key in networking nicely. You will find that following this simple networking challenge will really help you.

Remember that networking is as important as job interviews and first dates. Don’t neglect networking because there are plenty of amazing people waiting to meet you. Take a deep breath and make yourself proud that you accepted my challenge.

And for the extroverts reading this, remember what Stephen Hawking says, "Quiet people have the loudest minds."

More reading for networking for introverts here