As an Introverted Extrovert, I fully admit to having a tug-of-war with the ever so necessary function of NETWORKING.
I’m not alone. I’ve titled today’s TPF An Introvert’s Nightmare because I KNOW I’m not alone.
Networking has undeniable benefits, personally and professionally, but it can also be draining, discouraging, and downright dreadful if not mentally managed and prepared for in advance, especially if you are an introvert or an introverted extrovert.
If networking isn’t your jam (and I can certainly rock with you on that) below are three concepts to consider so you don’t miss the networking mark when it’s presented and you can make it a more palatable process for the long term:
1. Prepare Purposefully – Who is going to be in attendance that I want to meet? What do I know about them already? What can I learn about them before I go?
- Google tells us more than we want other people to know about us. In networking, the goal should never be to ask anything you could easily research. Of course, you want to avoid looking like a stalker, yet you also don’t want to waste networking time asking the easily discoverable. Make the most of your time talking about something of interest to the other person; the conversation will be more memorable for them and more enjoyable for you.
2. Take the Meeting – This is probably the most difficult suggestion to implement of the three, as time is our most protected resource, and taking the meeting, with no guarantee of return, feels counter to our protective default regarding time and attention.
- Accepting you might not realize an immediate benefit from this meeting can be hard to swallow when your time is already so constricted. Keep in mind that the hours in our days are capped and finite but our connections are more elastic and can expand. A dormant connection you make today could spring to life in the next year. Shifting your perspective from guaranteed time today, to possibilities in the future, is challenging, and it could be worth the investment.
3. Search for “Rainbow Connections” – Who are you connecting with, from other fields or industries, who have no obvious relevance for you now, yet could expand your world and your sense of possibility?
- Most savvy professionals are decent at short-term and long-term networking, but often don’t focus on Most savvy professionals are decent at short-term and long-term networking, but often don’t focus on cultivating Rainbow Connections (no offense to Kermit the Frog, master networker with both humans and Muppets alike). The first two networking strategies are focused on creating transactional relationships, whereas this third strategy is focused on creating transformational relationships; relationships that expose you to ideas and possibilities that may never have risen otherwise. What can you do to create more Rainbow Connection opportunities (e.g., involvement in an alumni association, reconnecting with a long-ago friend, attending an ‘ideas’ conference, scouring your LinkedIn connections’ connections)?
“Networking” for the sake of networking can be a nightmare for many of us that just don’t derive our energy from these types of sources. It’s totally understandable and quite common. Keeping these three motivating mantras, action items, or nudges – whatever you want to call them – might help you with the mental motivation you need to get to (net)work!”Networking” for the sake of networking can be a nightmare for many of us who just don’t derive our energy from these sources. It’s totally understandable and quite common. Keeping in mind these three motivating mantras, action items, or nudges – whatever you want to call them – might help you with the mental motivation you need to get to (net)working!
(I recently listened to my advice on #2 and I took the meeting, which resulted in a cool interview experience…you can read it here…)