We’ve all heard about these two groups of people – extroverts and introverts – the main difference between them being how they recharge their brains.
Extroverts gain energy from spending time with other people. They are usually the first to strike a conversation with new colleagues, speak out at a meeting or ask if you need any help. Introverts, on the other hand, lose energy in large social settings.
Introverts need alone time to recharge. Which is why they often come across reserved, quiet and independent, and usually prefer not to seek help from others.
There is a common assumption that introverts are inherently bad at forming social connections. However, both introverts and extroverts can be on top of their networking game, albeit through different means.
5 tips on how to network if you are an introvert
The simplest way to convey openness is by smiling. Smiling takes little effort, and signals to other parties that you are willing to interact with them, without necessarily starting a conversation. Smiling also displays your friendliness and makes you less intimidating, creating possibilities for new connections with people who may have previously found you to be unapproachable or distant.
2. Approach the lonesome newcomer
Introverts are best at one-to-one conversations, so take the chance to strike a casual conversation with colleagues who are by themselves in the pantry or in the lift.
Introverts make up between a third and half of the world’s population, so chances are some of the people you’ve been hesitating to approach are feeling the same way about having to deal with a conversation. The easiest way to network as an introvert is to locate fellow introverts.
3. Prepare conversation-guiding questions
To prepare for the actual conversations that happen during networking, it helps to know what you would want to say first. Preparing a set of generic, open-ended questions to ask when the time comes could help ease those nerves. Open-ended questions are ideal because they encourage the other person to offer more than just one-word answers, allowing you to probe further and get them to explain more, or share their viewpoints and perspectives with you.
People love talking about themselves and what they think. Since introverts are great listeners, you’ll not only be able to forge new relationships, but also get to know your colleagues better and gain a deeper understanding of a subject.
Preparation is key to capitalise on this strength if improvisation doesn’t come to you naturally. Some questions that you can use include:
- What is your role and what do you do?
- What projects are you working on now?
- What are you having for lunch?
- What did you do over the weekend?
4. Make sure others are listening to you too
We all know that introverts are great listeners. Undoubtedly, the ability to listen with sincerity and intent is a crucial skill to have in the workplace.
However, social networking requires a two-way interaction. If you find the conversation dominated by one person, try to direct it back to you by acknowledging their experiences and sharing your own.
Getting others to listen to you is key in building the foundation for a long-term reciprocal relationship.
5. Focus on the quality, not the quantity
Some people enter the office or a networking event with a numerical goal of how many new people they want to network with, and this focus on quantity hardly works for introverts. Giving out as many name cards as possible may result in having more diversified connections, but it is not the best social strategy if you are looking to form meaningful relationships.
Stronger professional relationships come from having deeper conversations – something that introverts are good at. For introverts, focusing on the quality of a relationship or conversation over the quantity would also make you less likely to exhaust your social quota for the day.
Networking is an essential skill
No matter how much we might dislike face-to-face conversations, networking is an essential soft skill. It helps connect you with experts who can support you in your professional development, forge meaningful relationships in the workplace, and even give you a reason to look forward to coming to work.
Networking is also critical if you are looking for new career opportunities in a more exciting industry or with an ideal employer. Your ability to develop relationships with people across different seniority levels and professions could help you open doors to companies or people you aspire to work for.
This article is contributed by Randstad Singapore.