Let’s talk about introverts for a bit. Did you know that I consider myself an introvert?
One of the many good things about being an introvert is that we tend to really enjoy one on one meetings with people. So, those get-to-know-you (coffee) meetings, I’ve grown to love them. I find them so much fun! Or calling to reconnect with someone, once I’ve moved beyond the weight of the phone, leaves me smiling for hours!
One of the best definitions I’ve heard for introverts is from Marti Olsen Laney’s book The Introvert Advantage (I borrowed this book from the library and loved it so much I bought myself a copy). She writes:
The strongest distinguishing characteristic of introverts is their energy source: Introverts draw energy from their internal world of ideas, emotions, and impressions. They are energy conservers. They can be easily overstimulated by the external world, experiencing the uncomfortable feeling of “too much.” This can feel like antsyness or torpor. In either case, they need to limit their social experiences so they don’t get drained. (emphasis mine)
I could go on, but it’s best to just read the book 😉
She writes about extroverts:
[Extroverts] are energized by the external world – by activities, people, places and things. They are energy spenders. Long periods of hanging out, internal contemplation, or being alone or with just one other person understimulate them.
To simplify, introverts need to be alone to recharge and extroverts need to be with groups of people to recharge.
As an aside, shy does NOT equal introvert. Shy can be an introvert or extrovert. Again, from The Introvert Advantage:
Shyness is social anxiety, an extreme self-consciousness when one is around people… it is usually learned from experiences at school, with friends, and in families… It is not an issue of energy; it is a lack of confidence is social situations.
Why am I sharing all of this?
Because it’s important to understand yourself.
When you know why you feel exhausted after a networking event and energized when meeting with one person you really connect with (yes, I’m making the assumption that you might be more of an introvert if you’re reading here) then you can plan. You can create strategies that support you.
For me, those include things like:
- Giving myself permission not to go to every networking opportunity that crosses my path
- Arriving five to ten minutes early to events that I know will have open networking time at the beginning
- Giving myself permission to hang out on the edge of a large networking event
- Taking a bathroom break to be by myself for a couple minutes
- Coming prepared with about three things I can share about my business or myself (beyond the elevator speech)
Those are just a few of my strategies.
The first step was going outside my comfort zone to attend networking events. I still remember how nervous I used to get in the car on the way there.
My mind would be going a million miles a minute second-guessing everything. Was I dressed appropriately? Was I sure I had the time right? Would anyone talk to me? Would I say the right things?
And physically, my stomach was in knots , as was my back, and my palms were all sweaty. I was nervous and stressed.
It was all exactly what needed to happen so that I could eventually be okay with going to these events. I learned that people will always talk to you. Strangers are pretty nice people and quickly stop being strangers. And even if I didn’t say the exact right thing, it was okay.
Would it have been easier if I had my strategies in place for that first meeting? Probably, but it was okay that I didn’t.
Through that process I learned what works and doesn’t work for me. Though reading books like The Introvert Advantage, I picked up other tips that I now use. Everything is a learning process.
I’d love it if you shared two things about yourself below in the comments
- Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?
- What strategies do you use to support yourself when networking?
Are you an introvert wondering how to make networking work for you?
Because the KiT program (Keep-in-Touch) program includes personal coaching time with me, you’re covered! Let’s determine what works for you.