The introspective tendencies of introverts make it seem that they will fail compared to their extroverted counterparts when placed in a social environment. While it’s true that extroverts tend to flourish when surrounded by people, even strangers, introverts can also perform and succeed if they recognize their innate traits. And it starts by accepting that the key to success has nothing to do with becoming more extroverted. Here’s how you can remain your authentic introverted self and succeed at networking:
Confidence is one of the traits that introverts wish they had that extroverts possess. However, a lack of confidence does not equate to a lack of knowledge or skill. That overconfidence can often be the downfall for extroverts who plan to walk into a networking event and use their natural charisma to captivate people. This certainty that they can naturally attract people may lead them to do less prep work. And if put in a position in which they have to display their skills and knowledge, they will likely fall short to impress. So, while you may not be prepared to wing it as an extrovert would, you can still plan and prepare strategically.
If you’re in a room with many strangers, your goal shouldn’t be to be the loudest person in the room so that everyone turns to you, and you get your pick of who to interact with. Instead, look for others who may reserve their attention for more meaningful conversations. These are the people who are probably looking to build deeper and more significant relationships rather than work the room collecting business cards.
Part of your strategy should also involve doing your research. People network for various reasons, you may be looking for better job opportunities, or you’re attending a social event filled with potential clients. Whatever your reasons are for attending a networking event, do your homework and know who will be there. Even if you don’t have the names and job titles of the attendees, you should have a general idea of why people are attending and what they’re looking for. This knowledge helps you set better goals, such as the number of people you will challenge yourself to meet or even the specific type of people you would like to connect with.
People are compelled by confidence, but they trust authenticity more. Rather than focusing all your efforts on becoming more charismatic, plan and practice how you will express your passion. Something drives you to succeed, and putting that into a unified message will help differentiate you and leave a lasting impact. Craft your message so it doesn’t sound like a slogan but a compelling description of what you do and why you do it.
Remember, the world is not made up entirely of extroverts. There are equally self-aware people who find social situations draining, yet they show up at networking events prepared and in control. You don’t need to single them out and make a beeline for fellow introverts. But it should serve as a reminder that introverts can succeed in social settings in their own way.
As a former CEO and COO, I have built leaders and their teams for over 30 years. I now count top organizations among my grateful clients.
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