Here are some things we know about introverts:
- Introverts tend to draw their energy from being alone or in small groups with people they know. For an introvert, being around people – especially new people – requires effort and can lead to statements like: “hey, I really need to get home and tend to my terrariums” (well before the social interaction or engagement would have normally been over).
- Typically, introverts have a few amazing friends they build very deep and meaningful relationships with. An introvert may say, “why should I spend my time making new friends when I could further enrich the relationships I already have and love?” Introverts aren’t concerned with having lots of friends – they just want and need a few very close ones.
- Introverts often think first and talk…maybe never. The quality of thinking first is a great one, but can stand in the way of participating in group discussions and gives others the perception that introverts are shy or stand-offish. Introverts are often very introspective and actively process what others are saying, making them great listeners if they aren’t distracted by their own thoughts and wonderings!
- When you’re in a conversation with someone, take the opportunity to ask for some advice. Introverts are practiced listeners, so ask a question or questions that will get others talking for a while. Use that time to learn something new and ask follow up questions. Also, let’s be honest, asking for advice is a huge compliment to whomever you are speaking and in networking a little ego stroking is not a bad thing.
- Set a realistic goal for how many new conversations you want to have. Rather than scrambling to play 20 questions with everyone in the room, pick one or two people to talk to. If the idea of talking to lots of strangers makes you think of no less than three excuses why you can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do it, make it manageable and plan to talk to just a couple people. Simply set a goal for yourself to meet three new people. After, reward yourself with some alone time: go outside for a breather, go grab a drink, use the restroom, find a corner and flip through Instagram, text with your best friend, etc.
- If you’re worried about breaking the ice and starting conversations, bring a wing-man/woman/person. Ask someone to come along with you that is a good conversation initiator – maybe an extroverted friend?! If you can bring someone who doesn’t mind the awkward small talk at the beginning of a conversation, then you can jump in on the conversation once there is more substance. Just make sure before you walk in to tell your partner in crime the deal – they are there to initiate conversations, introduce you, and then leave – making room for you to shine.
- Play to your strengths! As an introvert, you are a relationship developer and are usually in it for the long haul. For this reason, I believe introverts have the potential to be better networkers in the long run than their extroverted counterparts. You listen more, you pay attention, you focus, you ask deeper questions, and you build lasting relationships… if that’s not sexy, I don’t know what is!
- Realize that you are worthy of being in any conversation! I have actually heard introverts say things like: “I don’t have anything to add to the conversation” or “I felt weird saying anything…” – remember that you do have something to add to the conversation and that your comments aren’t scrutinized by anyone else as much as they are by you. Take a chance, share your thoughts!