You have likely heard the terms “introvert” and “extrovert,” and know which one you lean towards. There are often preconceived notions that only extroverts thrive in networking situations, while introverts will remain wallflowers the entire time. In relation to BNI, introverts can succeed since the framework is built around forming relationships, and curating bonds with the same people, on a regular basis. So, let’s dive further into what being an introvert looks like, and what that means for networking.
The terms introvert and extrovert were created by a psychologist named Carl Jung in the 1920’s. These two personality types help categorize people by how they enjoy spending their time. Jung said that introverts depend on their own mind to recharge, whereas extroverts require other people to fuel their energy.
What is an introvert?
WebMD defines an introvert as: “a person with qualities of a personality type known as introversion, which means that they feel more comfortable focusing on their inner thoughts and ideas, rather than what’s happening externally. They enjoy spending time with just one or two people, rather than large groups or crowds.” So, while some people think that introverts don’t enjoy being around people, that’s not necessarily the case. Rather, they prefer to surround themselves with people they know well and feel comfortable interacting with.
Signs you are an introvert
Along with enjoying your own company, and craving alone time to recharge, here are some other signs that you identify as an introvert:
- Require quiet to concentrate
- Are reflective and self-aware
- Don’t make decisions rashly
- Are comfortable being alone
- Don’t enjoy group work
- Prefer to write than talk
- Exhaustion after being around others
- May have fewer friends, but are close with these friends
- Use your imagination to problem solve
- Need to retreat into your own mind to rest and reset
Tips for networking
For introverts, networking can be overwhelming. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t successfully cultivate relationships that benefit you personally and professionally. Here are a few tips to consider:
Seek out small groups
Since larger groups are intimidating to most introverts, consider a small networking group. As previously mentioned, BNI is an excellent option for introverts as chapters are broken down into smaller groups and allow individuals the opportunity to get to know one another. You can also depend on your fellow members to refer connections, which means you don’t have to build your contact list all on your own. One to one meetings are also incredibly beneficial for introverts as they allow you the chance to sit down with another individual and get to know them on a personal level.
Listen and observe
Many people think that networking centers itself on constant verbal communication. Since it can take longer for introverts to warm up to a networking situation, participating in active listening can be incredibly beneficial. Introverts are often skilled in the art of listening to what others have to say and recalling that information.
Asking open ended questions and learning about others is also an effective way to build strong connections. In using these tactics, you give yourself the time and space to ease into the situation, and once you are more comfortable, engaging in meaningful communication will happen organically.
If possible, prepare in advance before an event. You might want to research some of the other attendees, practice your elevator pitch, or consider some topics of interest that you might rely on if you are feeling stuck or overwhelmed.
Ask a friend or colleague to attend with you. This way, you have someone familiar in the room if you need a friendly face for reassurance, or someone who can help open conversations with others.
We understand that networking can be challenging! However, we hope that these tips will help and, perhaps, encourage introverts to consider visiting a BNI chapter.
Next week, we will discuss networking tips for extroverts, so be sure to stay tuned!