I recently wrote about how we need to rethink networking: what it is and why we do it. I confessed that I am, in fact, an introvert and that I force myself to get through large-scale, cocktail-style, traditional networking events. I shared my belief that we need to network differently, particularly those of us who are introverts.
A Starter List: Networking for Introverts
What are some networking techniques that are well suited to introverts’ styles? Here’s a quick list.
Share a link, article, or report that you think will interest a specific person. I have a list of my top ten connectors: people who have gone out of their way to connect me to others. I know their interests, hobbies, and future goals. Whenever I see something that might interest them, I share it. But go beyond the top ten. Whenever you see something interesting come across your desk, ask “Who would be interested in seeing this?” Then pass it on.
Connect people by making an introduction. If you know two people who have a similar interest, are pursuing congruent goals, or might help each other out, see if they’re interested in meeting. Often, these connections can be wonderful gifts.
Advocate for someone by giving a referral, writing a recommendation, or endorsing someone’s skills. This is so easy to do and requires very little effort. Tell someone about your fantastic financial planner or ace IT architect and then let them know that you’re talking them up. Write a recommendation and send it to the person by email. Endorse someone’s skills on LinkedIn. All easy ways to give little gifts to people in your network.
Set up short 1:1 coffee dates. These are usually much more comfortable for introverts than 300-person events. Even better, they allow you to build high quality relationships in which you’re not just a name on a card, but a real, three-dimensional person.
Join a committee. In my opinion, this is the best way to make a membership association worth the money (unless, of course, the membership fee radically discounts meetings that you’re going to attend anyway). By joining a committee, you do a service to the organization, help people get to know your talents, and connect with people in a more meaningful way than exchanging cards over coffee.
Share your interests with people who might be interested. I’m a chocolate fanatic and I find that many people are receptive (in fact, excited) about hearing about my chocolate discoveries. They like it when I share my chocolate with them too.