Are you are on LinkedIn? (I remember when that question made my skin crawl). If you are, and if you’re a member of the SpeakerMatch group, then you can access this thread which is where this mini-guide (unknowingly) got its start.
It began with an observation (well, more like a gripe) I’d made about the speaking industry showing a bias toward extroverted speakers.
As an introvert who aspires to speak professionally, I wanted to explore the intersection of introverts and public speaking. A rich and interesting discussion got going. I learned a lot.
Then I asked a new question, about introverts and networking. What’s the best way to do it? What are tips or helpful ideas? I posted the question from the hotel room of a large conference center in DC. I was attending a multi-day seminar with lots of opportunities to connect. I wanted to make the most of it, enjoyably. So I asked for help, and I got it.
I’m so grateful to the very generous people listed at the end of this post who shared their wisdom. The insights and advice they offered helped me recognize a natural, simple, authentic 3-step approach to networking that feels good and is effective, too:
Step 1: Acting – This is playful, harmless imagining — acting “as if” you are among warm friends who accept and adore you completely. Pretend/assume everyone you meet is out to bless you. Inverting suspicion and cynicism warms you up from the inside, and makes you really attractive without you even saying a word.
Step 2: Being – As you imagine everyone around you to be kind benefactors, you feel the personal freedom and power to be yourself — fully, completely you. There is never a good reason or excuse to hide who you really are. If you are soft-spoken, and you flourish better with focused one-on-one conversations, rather than scattered multiple conversations (as I learned about myself), accept and include that aspect of yourself. Being real attracts your resonant people, and repels your less harmonious ones.
Step 3: Connecting – The point of it all. When you feel a spark of Possibility, Curiosity or Inspiration, the person you’re talking to is a keeper. Personally, I prize quality over quantity. Collecting contacts I won’t nurture isn’t time or energy well spent. I talked to many, but realistically “kept” few. It made my connections feel manageable, which makes me more inclined to actively do something with them.
Are you an introvert who has discovered ways to enjoy networking and make it feel natural and suitable to your temperament? Are you still fumbling a little? Please share in the comments below. Group-thinking really can improve and expand your thoughts about challenging situations.
Sending thanks to these very helpful people:
- Shelley Dudley
- Barbara Kite
- Stan Piskorski
- Barbara Fulmer
- Glen J. Cooper
- Pat Foltz
- Karen Southall Watts
- Glen Swyers
- Vickie Sullivan
- Susan Bender Phelps
- Sheila Gazov
- Rick Sheahan
- Arvin Upadhyay
Warning: The comments start off with a little zest and zeal,
but don’t be alarmed — it all works out beautifully in the end. :-)