Do you remember early in your career, when you attended your first professional networking event? For most extroverts, it’s probably not much of a big deal, but for many who are not quick to jump into social sparring can find networking nerve-racking and downright uncomfortable.
Many self-described introverts would agree, networking is just not built for them. Striking up a conversation with a stranger and captivating people with ease and charm is not the strongest tool in their shed. But before we start, lets extinguish many of the misconceptions of introverts.
Introverts do not hate being with people
Introverts are approachable
Introverts do not avoid all social situations
While extroverts get energized by groups of people and social activity, introverts prefer individuality to recharge. Those who understand this accept it, but still many introverts are left out of social activities that can both help and boost their careers. Here are 5 ways extroverts can better connect with introverts in professional spaces:
Ask thought-provoking questions. Most introverts prefer dealing with problems over people. A challenge is more exciting and rewarding than idle small talk.
Acknowledge and Praise. Most introverts are driven by kind words, niceness and acknowledgement. Although many Introverts can be quiet and reserved, they hate being ignored, not included or not considered.
Talk to them, but not too much. Most introverts cherish their private and quiet time. It gives them time to think, reflect, plan and execute. Say less. Think more. Give more value.
Be gentle with their feelings. No one likes a jerk…especially introverts. Understand shyness or a reserved demeanour does not always indicate a of lack of interest or enthusiasm. Most introverts are natural observers and have really (and i mean really) good memories, and how they are greeted and treated can go a long long way.
Incorporate games into your networking events. Let’s be honest, traditional networking events are pretty much designed for extroverts (and big fans of wine and cheese platters). By including fun and challenging games like Hearts, Spades or Pop Trivia can help introverts “break out of their shells” and be more receptive to participation and engagement.
Effective networking is more about making lasting connections than just to be seen and heard. As we assimilate more into a digital world, the lines between personal and professional connections are being merged. And for young professionals, understanding how to navigate the two can be very challenging, especially with finding the courage to play along with others.