Making the Most of Networking Based on Your Personality Type
When you arrive at a networking event, do you plunge through the doorway Oprah-esque, announcing, “I’m heeeeeere!” or do you stand at the doorway, survey the room, and then slowly move around the perimeter looking for a familiar face?
At the end of the event, are you energized and ready to “keep the party going” at a different venue? Or are you mentally exhausted and ready to go home and decompress?
Being extroverted, introverted, or somewhere in between, ambiverted, not only influences your behavior, but also how others perceive you. Extroverts might be seen as energetic, confident, and charismatic. But that unbridled enthusiasm could also be interpreted as overbearing or brash. Introverts might be viewed as cerebral and reserved, but it could also be interpreted as being aloof or snobby.
Extroverts tend to get a lot of press because they don’t shy away from the spotlight. But introverts are getting more attention thanks to a spate of books and blogs focusing on those more averse to being front and center, including the book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,by Susan Cain.
“At the heart of it, introverts and extroverts respond really differently to stimulation,” Cain said in a Huffington Post article. “Introverts feel most alive and energized when they’re in environments that are less stimulating — not less intellectually stimulating, but less stuff going on.”
Networking events tend to be highly stimulating environments held in large rooms with dozens if not hundreds of people. So it makes sense that extroverted types relish these events, while introverts tend to dread them.
Regardless of personality type, people do best when they operate in sync with their natural tendencies, rather than fighting with them. Introverts can develop tactics to make themselves comfortable in networking settings and extroverts can become more in tune with how their larger-than-life personalities may be overwhelming.
The following tips give extroverts and introverts suggestions on being their best, authentic selves and making a positive, lasting impression.
Networking Tips for Introverts
Phone a friend – If you can’t bear the idea of entering a networking event alone, invite a friend to join you.
Arrive early – If you break into a sweat thinking about entering a room full of people or joining a table, arrive early and stake your ground. That way, you are welcoming those who enter the room or ask to sit at your table.
Take breaks – Introverts need alone time to recharge during networking events. There are several ways to regroup:
• Go outside between sessions for a five-minute walk.
• If you’re at a multiday event, go back to your hotel room between sessions or at the breaks and soak in the silence.
• Attend only the sessions that are most relevant to you.
• Give yourself permission to arrive late or leave early.
Be prepared with conversation starters – Do a little research before the event so that you can ask relevant questions like, “Have you heard this speaker before?” “What brings you to this event?” or “I’m looking forward to the first session. How about you?”
Listen closely – Your extroverted colleagues love to talk! Take advantage of the opportunity and ask them questions. You will be remembered as a good conversationalist.
Smile – Don’t let your naturally reserved nature be confused with being unfriendly. Make an effort so that you are approachable.
Networking Tips for Extroverts
Adjust your tone – Be in tune with the energy in the room. If it’s a high-octane event, you will fit in perfectly. But if it’s more subdued, adjust your voice and mannerisms accordingly.
Ask open-ended questions – Since your less extroverted colleagues might be uncomfortable with conversation starters, take the lead and ask others about their line of work or company. By helping them to engage, you will create a more meaningful connection.
Make the other person comfortable – Diffuse any tension in the room with comments like, “Is it just me, or does this seem weird?” This can put your more introverted colleagues at ease and opens the door to more relaxed conversation.
Seek out a variety of people to speak with – You might never discover what is going on in the mind of an introvert if you don’t ask them. Since they will be reluctant to initiate the conversation, engage them and you might discover that your complementary strengths are a great fit.
Demonstrate your other strengths – Extroverts’ vibrant personalities are on full display. Try to weave other aspects of your personality into the conversation so you aren’t viewed as one-dimensional.
Focus – People notice when you are half-listening and looking over their shoulder scanning the room. Give the person you are speaking with your full attention and gracefully excuse yourself during a natural break in the conversation.
Karen Klein, principal of Fulcrum Information Resources, provides business research, project management, and technical writing services to clients ranging from Fortune 100 corporations to independent marketing strategists. www.fulcrum-info.com
Reprinted with permission from Women2Women