The Introvert’s Guide to Networking & Relationships

 In Professional Networking

The Introverts Guide to Networking & RelationshipsIf you are an introvert, chances are you tend to hunker down at work and give little thought to the importance or cultivation of your work relationships.  You may enjoy the ones you have but tend to not go out of your way to interact with others unless you feel your work demands it.

When an introvert is faced with the issue of conversations and developing relationships, it can be like a deer in the headlights.  It’s not a comfortable thing to have to do and if asked we’d probably tell you it’s kind of pointless.

If you live and work in the US, you are in an extroverted culture.  Some business cultures are more or less extroverted, which is a good thing to observe.  As an introvert surrounded by extroversion, it is important to understand some good adaptation strategies.  You don’t have to try to change who you fundamentally are, but your ongoing success depends on your ability to know when and how to adapt.  The skill of adapting really needs to be a priority.

As an introvert, conversations with others are a tool.  To do it means you have a purpose and outcome in mind.  For example, if you have a question about something you’re working on, you speak to someone whom you think will have the answer.  When faced with the ambiguous nature of events like the dreaded cocktail party, we hate it because we don’t ‘banter’.  Those types of conversation seem kind of pointless. We’re also not prone to walk into the office and offer up a good morning greeting to everyone.

Here are things, as an introvert, you need to know:

If you intend to climb the corporate ladder to any degree, you will need well-developed working relationships. If you are headed into management, your job is going to be less about your ‘technical’ expertise and more about working with others.  There is a purpose to developing relationships, even before you need them.  This means to the introvert, you do have a purpose to get to know others even if you have no specific task that involves them at the moment.

Even though you may get impatient with conversations that don’t seem to have a purpose, you need to understand that for others, talking out loud is part of the process of thinking, validating and relating. You do this mostly internally. You need to develop patience and consider participating, because to the extrovert this is relating and developing relationships.  You have to see how things work for the other person.

Small things mean a lot others.  The simple act of saying “Hi” or greeting another person goes a long way to developing a relationship.  Checking in with others to see how their day or a project is going shows you do care, without putting forth a lot of effort.  Also, these simple gestures are not time consuming.

For things like the company party, set a goal for yourself which will help you feel more purposeful in your attendance.  A great goal is to speak to 3 people whom you rarely see and get yourself updated on what they’re doing.  When you ask questions, you don’t have to think about anything other than the other person.  That person will feel great about you since your questions signal true interest.

More than likely you don’t feel like work is the place to get very personal with others.  You don’t really see how it fits into conversations about a task.  You don’t have to share every detail of your personal life, but when others offer up personal details, be ready to offer up a few of your own.  Exchanging those tidbits with others helps solidify the relationship.

Keep in mind that you won’t be here forever.  There will come a point where you will need to rely on others for the next job or opportunity.  You need to understand that ongoing relationship work doesn’t end – you should be doing it throughout your entire career.

As an introvert, you have to understand the priority of how to interact with an extrovert.  The priority will always be ‘relating’ followed by ‘task’.  Introverts tend to want to dive right in to the task and completely bypass relationship work. You will most likely want to dive right into a task without the important work of relating to the other person – even if it’s only for a quick minute.  Your failure to make an attempt to ‘relate’ will brand you as unfriendly and potentially difficult to work with.

We live in an extrovert environment.  You can be cranky about that fact if you’re an introvert; or you can accept it and work with it.  We all have challenges in the work place, but with a few minor adjustments and some real thought you can be a powerful part of the culture.

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