When it comes to networking, who do you think does it better? Extroverts or Introverts? The answer may surprise you.
Who is better at networking?
The answer is: Neither. Both have unique strengths that are crucial to successful networking.
Not surprisingly, many people would consider Extroverts to be the better networkers. This is because they often have the ‘gift of the gab’ and are quite happy to speak to numerous people without fear or hesitation.
Whereas the Introvert will often prefer to develop deeper, lasting relationships with a smaller group of people.
As I have written previously in my series on networking, the success of your networking efforts is not just measured by the number of new people you meet, but what you do with those relationships.
While the Extrovert may be naturally skilled at meeting new people and having a large database they are continuously expanding, Introverts are more naturally skilled at nurturing and establishing deeper relationships with fewer people.
Both of these strengths (i.e. ‘connecting’ and ‘nurturing’ relationships) are vital to the success of networking.
So, the question we should be asking is not: “Who is better when it comes to networking?” but rather: “How can we maximize our results – no matter who we are, what our strengths are, and how we feel about networking?”
Here are 3 things to consider:
Understand Your Preferences
Read through the following questions and select which answer you resonate with the most:
- The thought of attending a networking event and meeting new people – excites you.
- The thought of attending a networking event and meeting new people – scares you.
- You have no hesitation in introducing yourself to strangers and starting the conversation.
- You prefer other people introduce themselves to start the conversation.
- At a networking event, you enjoy moving around the room and speaking to as many people as you can.
- At a networking event, you prefer to have conversations with fewer people so you can get to know them better.
- At networking events you find you can ‘click’ well with lots of people.
- At networking events you find you connect to fewer people with similar interests
- You enjoy speaking to groups of people at the same time and will often be the one speaking.
- You prefer to speak to people one-to-one.
- You are quite comfortable when it comes to small talk.
- You dislike small talk and prefer to speak about topics that matter to you.
- You have been admired for your ability to speak to anyone.
- You have been admired for your ability to listen to others.
- You feel energized after attending a networking event.
- You feel drained after attending a networking event.
- You can easily hold a conversation and speak about things spontaneously.
- You prefer to think about what you are about to say.
- I would describe myself as talkative and enthusiastic.
- I would describe myself as quiet, mellow, and easy going.
If you resonated mainly with the first point of each set of questions – your preference is that of an Extrovert.
If you resonated mainly with the second point of each set of questions – your preference is that of an Introvert.
[Note: The above quiz is to be taken in the light-hearted spirit in which it was created. There are no right or wrong answers. Only what is right for you.]
Recognise Your Strengths
As I mentioned above in my note, there are no right or wrong answers. Nor is one better than the other.
Both have unique strengths they can leverage.
In other words, being an Extrovert is no better than being an Introvert when it comes to networking.
So, if you’re an Introvert and have been hiding out because you don’t think you’re cut out for networking because you feel intimidated about having to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, understand that you too have strengths and abilities that will support you in building solid relationships with people, once the ice has been broken.
Let’s list the strengths you have that you can leverage when it comes to networking and building key relationships.
Here’s are a few to get you started:
- Ability to speak to strangers;
- Skilled at having lighthearted conversations with many people;
- Great at starting the conversation and at small talk;
- Able to speak in and amongst groups of people.
- Ability to listen;
- Skilled at having meaningful conversations with likeminded people;
- Great at strengthening relationships by asking and contributing to conversation that speak on topics you are interested in;
- Ability to build and nurture key relationships with individuals.
Now it’s your turn to add to the list.
“Fail to plan – plan to fail” is a saying I’m sure you’re familiar with.
Planning is also important when it comes to networking to ensure you get the best results out of each networking event you go to
This is to ensure the Extrovert doesn’t miss out on opportunities of strengthening a relationship because he/she is too busy meeting new people. Or, is so busy speaking to new people that he/she forgets to listen.
And, to ensure the Introvert doesn’t miss out on opportunities to meet new people because he/she is standing in a corner waiting for the right opportunity to start a conversation.
Here are a few things you need to get in place:
- Know who it is you’d like to connect with (i.e. a printer would be well served to connect with a graphic designer);
- Make a commitment to have conversations with at least 2-3 new contacts;
- Have your powerful introduction rehearsed and ready to go;
- Be prepared to provide additional information about yourself, your products and services, as well as 1 or 2 client success stories;
- Have your invitation to connect after the meeting prepared should you meet someone you’d like to add to your circle of influence;
- Have your follow up strategies and action planned and ready to go after the meeting.
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