From the moment you clicked open that invitation to the evening networking wine and cheese reception you could feel the battle inside. The introvert within you would rather escape home to the couch and that mystery you just can’t put down. But the entrepreneur inside you knows networking is one of the components to building a successful business. The good news is that the introvert and the entrepreneur can attend that networking event together and own the room better than any of the extroverts there.
Author Susan Cain’s TED Talk about introverts has been viewed more than 20 million times. In it she says one-third to one-half of the population is introverted just like she is, and that introverts have extraordinary gifts and talents to bring to the world, even if it is sometimes hard to hear them over the extroverts. Extroverts gain energy from social interaction including networking events while introverts focus on internal feelings and spending time alone to reflect on and process things they have seen and heard. Being an introvert is not the same thing as being shy, and it’s a myth that introverts are socially awkward. That’s why you’ll find introverts at networking events. They have four key strengths that allow them to excel at making contacts and building relationships.
Introverts are the Best Listeners
While the extroverts are talking, the introverts are doing a good job of listening. Experts describe introverts as active listeners. They hear what the other person is saying, they process it internally to understand it and then they will respond. They are not likely to interrupt someone who is talking or turn the situation around and make it about them. If an introvert takes an extra second or to to respond to something it is because they are thinking it through first.
Introverts are Excellent Observers
Introverts aren’t just good listeners, they are also excellent observers. While they are quietly listening to someone else they are also watching for all the little details. Group dynamics and body language are some of the little things that just don’t get past an introvert. That makes them more likely to process everything they have seen and heard in a situation and come out with a big-picture view.
Introverts Build Meaningful One-on-One Relationships
Being a part of a large group can make an introvert queasy, but it’s myth that introverts dislike people. They just dislike people in large and loud numbers. At a networking event you won’t find an introvert standing in the middle of a circle looking for the spotlight. You’ll find them on the edges of the circle looking for one person they can connect with and share thoughts and ideas. For an introvert meaningful conversation beats shallow socializing every time.
Introverts Prefer a Small Circle of Excellent Contacts
While an introvert may collect a stack of business cards at an event, the search is really on for just a few, valuable contacts.
Author, speaker, blogger and introvert James Altucher, says a powerful networking technique for him is making introductions between people who may benefit each other, but letting them know they don’t have to keep him posted on how things turn out. Altucher says the people he introduced never forget that he was the one that put them together, and he has gained a reputation for being able to create winning combinations.
Building a successful business means building and managing relationships. Everything happens through other people and being authentic, generous and consistent in those relationships serves you well in your professional and your personal life. Understanding your own personality traits and recognizing the traits of others is a useful tool in understanding your dynamics with people.
Swiss Psychiatrist Carl Jung proposed and developed the personality theory concept that there are introverts and extroverts. But he maintained that no one is strictly an introvert or extrovert. Each person falls somewhere on the scale with more tendencies one way or the other.
Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Director/Producer Steven Spielberg, Billionaire Warren Buffet and former President Barack Obama all identify themselves as introverts. Their success wasn’t held back because they are introverts. Instead they were propelled forward by listening, observing, processing and building relationships that mattered.