Networking Advice for Introverts

“The rules is the rules.” I’m pretty sure it was Popeye who said that. Whoever it was, he or she is right. The rules of life are the rules. What got you ahead two hundred years ago still applies today. What works in California works in Mississippi…and Italy, China, and Morocco.

Networking tips for introverts

Introverts, stop looking for ways around the rules of the world. To be successful, you need people. (Tweet That)

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So often we try to find the exceptions to the rules or make our own. We fight against the current, rather than riding it. How exhausting and unproductive!

I’ve written numerous posts about the “rules” of life and success. Here are some of my favorites.

Who do you Need to Know? | Life is a Good Ol’ Boys Club | Don’t go it Alone, Community Matters | Maintaining a Warm Network – What I’ve Done

Almost every time I write something about networking, relationship-building, or the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people, I get asked:

What about us introverts?

There are no special rules for you. Just as there are no special rules for extroverts.

I love being around people. I understand that life truly is all about how well you know the people you know. I am, by definition, an extrovert.

And as an extrovert, sitting down to read a book or taking the time to think and pray is hard. Quiet things and alone things rank right up there with having my wisdom teeth pulled. It’s as close to torture as I have ever experienced.

And yet I do those things…because they are important.

There are no special rules for extroverts like me. We still have to read. We still have to spend time being still. We still have to think.

And there are no special rules for introverts. You still have to make time to network. You still need community. You still have to get out of your comfort zone to surround yourself with influencers and build relationships with people who can help you reach your goals.

Stop

If you are an introvert, stop looking for ways around the rules of the world.

Stop looking for shortcuts.

Stop being afraid to stretch.

To be successful, you need the same thing as extroverts…people.

Them’s the rules, like them or not.

How have you gotten out of your comfort zone to network more?

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  • I’m a little introvert and a little extrovert. The Internet has been a great networking tool, but getting out in-person is a bit harder for me. It’s mostly a time-constraint thing. But I’m also uncomfortable with self-promotion in general and more so face-to-face.

    • I don’t like self-promoters either. But I love people who have a product, idea, or service to offer and they promote it well.

    • Agreed. (I’m the same way – a little introvert and a little extrovert.)

  • I’m with Dan. I can completely relate! I overcompensate being uncomfortable with talking too much about myself. I feel if I ask the other person certain questions I am being too nosy and will offend them. I see myself as a “shy extrovert”, although people around me might never notice this. I prefer being around others than being by myself, but I have a hard time introducing myself to someone new right away. I need to warm up a little. This year I’ve attended two wonderful events, EntreLeadership Performance and Launch Conference. I had to overcome shyness to reach out and spend time with other attendees. It was a fantastic experience that definitely stretched me out. No matter what your personality is, stretching out and reaching out will always prove to be an invaluable growth tool.

    • Good for you! Keep attending, learning, stretching, and thus growing.

  • I am and introvert and own service area businesses. Sometimes people say I am an introvert to express that they don’t like being around people. I can be around a lot of people all day I just need to build alone time into my day. I wake up early to be by myself, go for a walk in the middle of the day for 10 minutes, and have 10 minutes to myself when I first come home(cave time). This helps me because the rules are the rules:)

    • Alone time is still great. Even I enjoy some time to just sit back and relax or do yard work and think.

  • Brett Thompson

    I am an introvert and I needed this. I often use the excuse “but I’m an introvert.”

    I’ve been putting into practice what you suggest Matt and it’s working very well. Thank you!

  • “I am what I am.” Popeye also said this.

    And who I am is part of the 50%-plus. Yes, that’s right, introverts make up a little more than 50% of the population.

    I came across your blog at the invitation of a friend. In fact, he’s the one who inspired your post. He pointed it out knowing I’d have a reaction. Here it is.

    First, before writing one more word about introverts (or extroverts, for that matter) please read these two books on the topic: “Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture” (IVP Books) by Adam S. McHugh and “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” (Broadway Books) by Susan Cain.

    Oh, and you probably should include “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t” (HarperBusiness) by Jim Collins on your reading list. Collins has some interesting things to say about the personality bent of some of the better CEOs. (Yep, they’re introverts.)

    Reading these will be well worth your time. Especially if you have any interactions with those who are introverts. And I’m sure you do.

    Second, we need a little clarification as to what introversion is and isn’t.

    A big “isn’t” is this: Introversion and shyness are *not* synonyms. They are different. While it’s possible for a person to be both shy and an introvert, it could be argued that most introverts are not also shy. And there are such people and shy extroverts.

    What introversion *is* is essentially a different way of seeing, approaching, and interacting with the world.

    Different is the operative word here. Being an introvert is not a bad thing. It’s not a disability or a liability. And it’s not a choice. It is part of how I and all introverts are “fearfully and wonderfully” made in God’s image.

    While introverts tend to be drained by a lot of interactions with people, this doesn’t mean we do not need or don’t like people. It’s more a matter of energy. Introverts recharge our batteries through quiet, solitary pursuits, while extroverts charge theirs through interactions. We are merely plugging into different sources of power, so to speak.

    So, while an extrovert may operate within a “community” of hundreds, introverts are well-served by a smaller, more intimate community of a handful of friends. And that’s okay.

    As far as how business rules apply, many of the “rules” of 200 years ago would fail today; they have absolutely changed and continue to do so. The same is true as far as geography is concerned. How one conducts business and interacts with people definitely varies on each coast and between in the U.S., and the differences multiply when you cross the borders of countries.

    As far as how introverts and extroverts operate, yes, the “rules” are different. Sadly, there does exist a sort of extrovert bias that tends to believe that how extroverts function is “the right way.” All I can say to that is we already know better than being prejudiced against an ethnic group, preferring a man over a woman for a job, or slighting someone because of their religion or race. Being biased against introverts is just as wrong. Extroverts are not better, just different.

    In fact, I found it interesting in the blog post “Community Matters” that the author explains how he was doing a very extroverted kind of thing by cramming his drive time with podcasts. But then he ran out of podcasts and had an hour to endure quietly. And in this introverted environment, guess what happened? He had an epiphany! An ah-ha moment! Funny how that works.

    So, please, take a breath and a moment to slow down, sit still, be quiet, and reflect on the positive things that your own introverted friends have contributed to your life. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised if you do.

    Anyway, I could go on. If you’re really interested in reading more, here are some of my blog posts on the topic:

    • “Longing for the asterisk free life” http://www.stephenrclarkblog.com/2013/10/longing-for-asterisk-free-life.html

    • “Hey! You! Why won’t you look me in the eye? Are you an introvert or something?” http://www.stephenrclarkblog.com/2013/06/hey-you-why-wont-you-look-me-in-eye-are.html

    • “Cicada creativity: Quiet inspiration that sets ideas buzzing” http://www.stephenrclarkblog.com/2013/05/cicada-creativity-quiet-inspiration.html

    • “Worshiping an extroverted God as an introverted believer” http://www.stephenrclarkblog.com/2011/05/worshipping-extroverted-god-as.html (This is the most popular post on my blog.)

    • “Just as we are, or so we wish: Introverts in your church” http://www.stephenrclarkblog.com/2013/04/just-as-we-are-or-so-we-wish-introverts.html

    • Awesome! No bias, just direction in one area introverts need a little push sometimes. Note that I called extroverts out on their flaws too…we tend to want it to be all about people and not enough about ideas and learning.

      Good to Great is without a doubt one of the top 3 books I’ve ever read (and listened to). I’ve read it once and listened to it no less than ten times.

    • Introverted One

      Thank you for your post. I am a team lead where I work and a introvert. I am a great worker. I don’t think right off the top of my head. My ideas often come to me in the middle of night. However, when brainstorming with a group, I often shut down. It is very uncomfortable to me. But from reading these other posts, I feel as though that I was mistakenly placed in the job I am in because I am an introverted person. I am not outgoing and I am not one of these go getters that move at the speed of lightening. I am thinking about resigning from my job. Even though I am have completed so many successful projects. I feel very inadequate as a leader. This is basically how I have been all my life. I am a singer, I can get up on a stage and sing. I am a evangelist. I can teach to a room full of people the bible with great understanding. However, when it comes to leading a team of people, I feel as though I am unqualified. And t is all due to me being introverted. There is something about a person that is a great leader, a quality that I just don’t have. I was in a leadership training class with a room full of individuals who were go getters and think of the top of their head and make suggestions so quickly. From being in this leadership training and comparing myself to the others, I just don’t have that quality. Honestly, I don’t know at this stage of my life if I can change. We have great leadership over me and we have accomplished some amazing projects. I am really thinking about resigning my position. Not looking for sympathy, looking for answers. Thanks

  • Some of my favorite people are introverts with good social skills. When they choose to interact, they have so much to offer, tend to be better listeners than extroverts, and don’t wear me out with too much talk/activity/busyness.