As an introvert, when you hear the word networking do you get knots in your stomach? In a world where ideas and outward displays of energy are valued, extroverts seem to have the upper hand at networking. But as an introvert, consider playing to your strengths as you create strong relationships with others online.
What is networking, really? It is the vibrant process of exchanging support, ideas, and learning. Using social media is one intentional way you as an introvert can build on your natural strengths of preparation and going for depth vs. breadth. You are more likely to take the time to consider who and how you want to engage with people. By expanding your online presence, you not only increase your range of contacts but also achieve visibility that might be difficult to gain in person.
In my research as well as through my work with thousands of successful introverts, I have discovered five key factors that successful introverted networkers use. Here is what they do:
Know your purpose – You may want to spread a message to a larger audience, learn from thought leaders in your field, attract clients, or look for a new job opportunity. When you know your purpose, you will be more focused on what actions to take.
Grab a friend– Introverts are comfortable with one-on-one conversations, so why not enroll a knowledgeable social media buddy? Buy them a cup of coffee and ask them to walk you through the steps of becoming more engaged on one social media platform (e.g., getting Twitter followers or engaging in a group on LinkedIn). This is the best way to ramp up your learning curve.
Be a giver, not just a taker – Like in face-to-face networking, reciprocity is valued and people who are just “takers” quickly wear out their welcome in social media. What can you offer to your online community? Share the high quality content of influencers in addition to spreading your own point of view. Leadership consultant Jesse Lynn Stoner started blogging only a few short years ago and now has over 48,500 followers on Twitter. She did this by sharing both her quality blog posts and those of other leadership gurus. Consider commenting on people’s blogs and responding to their posts.
Keep at it –Like January at the gym, many people sign up for these sites and let their involvement slip. If you stick with it and commit to even 10 minutes a day on social media, you will find your rhythm and learn how to be efficient. Most importantly, you will increase your network, discover that your world expands, and making and cultivating new relationships will be reinforcing.
Talking is allowed – Finally, follow up with relevant contacts you have met online and schedule meetings with new people on the phone and face-to-face. After getting to know people virtually, you will have information about them and their interests that will jumpstart the conversation, and your interactions can take a deeper dive.
As an introvert, you will definitely up your networking game by relying on your natural strengths. You might surprise yourself and find that you even enjoy it.
Networking is an important step of growing your business relationships. Become an expert communicator with these AMA resources and seminars.
Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, PhD, is a highly regarded faculty member of AMA, author, and global speaker. Jennifer will be delivering a webcast on The Power of Introverted Women on 3/11/2015. She is hailed as a “champion for introverts.” Her books, The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength (Berrett-Koeher, 2009) and Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference (Berrett-Koehler 2013), are bestsellers and have been translated into 14 languages. Her new book The Genius of Opposites: How Introverts and Extroverts Create Extraordinary Results Together will be out in August 2015. Follow her on Twitter @jennkahnweiler and on Facebook at The Introverted Leader
Don’t underestimate feedback. As Marshall Goldsmith said, “People will do something—including changing their behavior—only if it can be demonstrated that doing so is in their own best interests as defined by their own values.”