If you’ve ever talked to me or read my blog, you know how much I love networking. I love networking with your colleagues, prospective clients, and even people who may not be in your industry but can hold you accountable and encourage you when you need it. Networking is, inherently, a social sport. You’re talking to people you don’t know, showcasing who you are, and making connections.
Because of this, there are countless articles out there breaking down how to network as an introvert. But what about if you’re an extrovert? Networking should come easily to you, right? Not always. As an extrovert, you face a different set of networking challenges. You may feel comfortable connecting with people one on one or at a networking event. But to truly get the most out of every networking experience, you should keep the following in mind: although you are excited about networking, there are ways you need to keep yourself in check to be successful.
Networking can be Overwhelming for Some (Not You)
As an extrovert, networking is exciting. You get to meet new people, connect on a deeper level, further your business, and build each other up. I’m getting pumped just thinking about it! However, just because networking isn’t overwhelming for you doesn’t mean that some people aren’t completely freaking out while networking. This has nothing to do with you, and you can’t take it personally. It’s important to take a step back and work to identify who, exactly, in a networking situation might be overwhelmed.
Remember, everyone processes things differently. Remembering that can help you stay on track while networking with an introvert. This doesn’t mean that you have to tone down who you are. Your extroverted-ness is wonderful! It’s what makes you you! Still, there are some good guidelines to stick to when you’re networking to make sure you stay within the lines of what everyone feels comfortable with. Plus, you’ll end up getting more out of each event or one on one meeting because everyone will walk away feeling positive about the interaction! Here are six things to consider while networking as an extrovert:
1. Remember Personal Space
I’m a hugger and a hand-shaker. People who know me are aware of this. You might be this way too! Unfortunately, not everyone is going to appreciate that much physical contact when meeting. To take it a step further, it’s also important to remember that in larger networking events space may be crowded. Despite this, make sure you’re giving everyone you meet a healthy personal space bubble – or at least trying to given the circumstances.
2. Recognize When You’re Coming on Too Strong
It’s easy to get jazzed when you’re talking about your business or something you’re passionate about. Or maybe you’re excited about making a connection with someone in particular. Either way, it’s important to stay self-aware. No matter how internally thrilled you are, until you’ve got a solid and established understanding going on between you and a colleague, know when you’re coming on too strong. Some ways you might be coming at your new connection too aggressively?
- If you’re passing out unsolicited business advice.
- If you’re trying to force a future meeting with a brand-new connection who isn’t being super responsive.
- If at any point you start to notice that you’re the only one who has talked for a while in a group meeting.
3. Make Space for Others at the Table
This ties into my last comment. If, at any point at all, you realize that you’re the only person who has been talking for a while, you’ve got a problem. I think it’s awesome that you’ve got big ideas, or that you’re passionate. But other people at the figurative networking table could have equally cool ideas, and they’re just not quite as vocal. Give other people a chance to voice their opinion, you’re likely to make a fabulous new connection!
4. Give Yourself a Set Timeframe
This is more about your personal self-care. As an extrovert, you may feel tempted to close the place down every time you attend a meeting or networking event. Then, afterwards, you may want to go to dinner with new connections, hop on the phone with someone you just met, or research some awesome new service you discovered.
You don’t have to. In fact, it’s probably best for you and your business if you set a timeframe for yourself going in. If you allow your scheduled networking to bleed into your evening, or the next day, or the rest of the week, you’re detracting from other necessary business activities that you’ve got to get done. Instead, schedule time to follow up on notes you took, ideas you had, or connections you made. Focused time is always, always your friend.
5. Listen, Listen, and Listen Some More
Don’t just listen – listen actively. This goes along with allowing for figurative space at the table. When you allow for someone who is introverted to share themselves, their business, and their ideas with you, you’re getting a glimpse into something not many people may see. Take notes! Ask meaningful follow up questions, and repeat what they’re saying back to them to make sure you understand.
6. Ask the Right Questions
Small talk and personal questions may come easily to you, but for introverts this may not be the case. When you’re talking to someone and getting the impression that they may be feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to ask the right questions. Focus on what they’re passionate about, and respect it when they shy away from topics. Most importantly, you can end the conversation like this: I would love to talk more with you about [your business, your financial planning needs, etc.]. How would you prefer I follow up with you? Are you more comfortable with email or a phone call?
By putting the ball in their court, you’re allowing them to connect with you in a way that they’re most comfortable. Some people prefer email if they’re not a talker – either way, you’ve made an awesome new contact!
Remember, You Don’t Need to Fix the Introverts
Just because networking is an extrovert’s game doesn’t mean we have to fix the introverts. There’s no reason they should have to conform to how we connect with people. If you’re one of the rare extroverts who’s willing to refocus their communication tactics to respect and accommodate introverted networkers, you’ll make tons of new connections and contacts. We all deserve to be ourselves, especially in situations where we’re trying to make genuine connections. By respecting who your introverted networkers are as people and finding ways to showcase who you are in a way they respond to, your networking experience will be so much more amazing than it’s ever been.