Is there anything an introvert hates more than networking?
Probably not. At least, not with the introverts I come in contact with.
I hope to reduce the tension level about this all-critical career enhancing activity. It’s not as bad as it seems, but perhaps more important than you realize.
Let’s address some myths about networking. I think it will help you get going on networking and help you while you are.
Myth #1: Networking is going to networking events full of people you don’t know.
Reality: No. If your goal is to widen your network of people, you should be going to events with people who share your interests or commonality. Stop going to generic networking events.
Myth #2: You should meet as many people as you can.
Reality: You are going for quality not quantity. Each person you meet you need to engage well enough that you know if there is real connection and interest. Don’t be superficial.
Myth #3: Work the room.
Reality: If you go to an event with the sole purpose of meeting large numbers of people, there is no way you can possibly engage with anyone in a meaningful way. You don’t want to “work the room”. You want to find a small handful of people to have meaningful connections with.
Myth #4: Move on if they can’t do something for you.
Reality: Networking can feel very predatory if all you are after is what the other person can do for you. The rule is to give to the relationship first, before making demands on it. If you don’t, the other person will feel used and run from you as fast as possible.
Myth #5: You have to be outgoing or extraverted to network successfully.
Reality: While you do have to be willing to start a conversation with a stranger, you need to be who you are authentically. Don’t try to change who you are, simply adapt some behaviors to comfortably start conversations so you feel confident while doing so.
Myth #6: Success in networking is a stack of business cards.
Reality: You should collect business cards or contact information. Again, you aren’t going for a stack – you’re going after a few. While you’re at it, make notes on the card so you can remember what you spoke to this person about so the next time you see them, you will pick up where you left off. They’ll love you for remembering.
Myth #7: Don’t spend too much time with any one person.
Reality: If you don’t spend enough time with a person you meet, you’ll never learn enough to know if there is the potential for an ongoing relationship. Networking is about relationships and reciprocity. You will miss both things if you are flitting around the room like a hummingbird.
Networking. It’s too important to your career to ignore or do poorly but there are myths out there that certainly don’t inspire introverts. Fortunately, most of those myths are wrong.