If you ask the question introvert or extrovert in any group you’re sure to find people readily self identify and then commence giving examples and even excuses for their behavior ‘oh I know I’m a party animal that’s because I’m an extravert’, or ‘I turn down social invitations regularly but my friends understand because I’m an introvert’.
There are times when we use our introvert or extrovert label as an excuse for our choices or behaviours and whilst we understand that we all have personality traits that land us on the broad spectrum somewhere between extreme introversion and extreme extroversion, we’re not super keen on using the labels as reasons for our behaviour, but rather see them as a demonstration of our preferences.
Having said that, many individuals who lean towards introversion tends to find networking or just being in a room full of people hard work energetically. After all they’re going to be faced with a bunch of loud extraverts, given roughly 75% of the population fall toward the extravert end of the scale, and their preference is for quieter pursuits. Forward planning and preparation will be required to feel ready to face any networking or group function, including conferences, seminars and social gatherings.
How to prepare yourself for an event
It’s always best to plan your networking activities in advance so you can be sure you have plenty of recharge time before and after the event. This will ensure you don’t become totally drained.
You’ll also need to be prepared to ‘lean in a little’ to the discomfort you feel when faced with a room full of people. Find a technique that helps you to feel centered in a crowd. This could be a short meditation, breathing exercise or striking a Power Pose prior to entering the event (see Amy Cuddy’s Tedtalk http://www.ted.com/speakers/amy_cuddy) it’s not as scary as it sounds, in fact it’s easy and effective.
Introverts’ attributes make them great networkers
If you identify as an introvert be assured you have some truly fabulous skills that lend themselves very well to networking. They include being a great listener. Unlike an extravert, introverts don’t feel like they need to talk to connect with others. This has a distinct advantage in the networking game, as you get to learn more about the other person and how you might be able to help them. The extraverts will miss this opportunity as they try to get the next word into the conversation. Have you noticed they love to talk about themselves?
When you do speak, your communication style is calm and your words are well considered. This is a great skill to be known for.
A side note for the extraverts
If you’ve scooted straight down to this section without reading the rest of the article, we suggest you read the whole article as it might give you some insights that will help you understand the style of the quieter attendees at your next networking gathering or conference. They have much wisdom to share and just might be the conduit to your next client or career move.
A quiet word of caution for the introverts
Be careful not to gravitate to people you know at your next event because it’s comfortable but don’t feel you have to speak with everyone in the room. One or two new connections at an event is totally fine.
If you meet someone you’d like to speak with further perhaps invite them to join you for a coffee, this is a better way for most people to get to know each other along with their business or profession. You’ll both probably find more opportunities to support each other in the future.
In the end be sure to develop your own way of connecting with others when attending group functions, prepare before you go to ensure you have the energy to make the most of it, after all you just never know who you’ll meet and the opportunities that will unfold.