Who exactly is an introvert? A lot of people think that to be introverted means to be anti-social or shy. By no means! Introverts can be as social as extroverts can. However, they are energised in their own company, and not in the company of others. For example, instead of spending Friday night with friends at a bar, an introvert may prefer to recharge his or her batteries by staying at home and watching a movie, or reading a good book.
Somewhere along the line, the introvert got pegged as uncool, and our society decided to idealize those sociable folks that constantly want to be around people. What’s interesting about this is that some of our civilization’s greatest ideas, from Newton’s Laws of Gravity to Steve Job’s Macintosh computer, came from people who needed to spend vast amounts of time alone, developing the competencies needed to move our civilization forward. You would agree with me that spending a lot of time alone is much easier when you find the experience energizing.
What does all of this have to do with networking? Well, somewhere along the line, people also saw the fun and enjoyment that extroverts had at social events, and decided that the networking activities that took place at these events were not for the introvert. This makes sense on some level, because the introvert would rather not be at most of these events. However, I boldly state that introverts still make better networkers than extroverts. The reasons for this are simple.
First of all, introverts are excellent listeners. Unlike their extrovert counterparts, they actually listen when others speak instead of thinking about the next thing they want to say. When you consider the fact that networking is not about talking about yourself, but about listening to others and figuring out how to be of assistance, you quickly realize how introverts can shine in this regard.
The second reason why introverts are better networkers is because they are better at follow up. It is pretty typical for an extrovert to meet up to fifty people at the same event where the introvert met five. This is because the introvert usually focuses his or her energies on interacting with a smaller number of people. Where this becomes advantageous is that it allows the introvert to build deeper relationships with new contacts. This ultimately results in the creation of a small, but high impact network.
If you consider yourself an introvert, I say go out there and build that network. You are uniquely equipped to do so! 😀