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We’ve all heard about the two categories of people - extroverts and introverts. The difference between introverts and extroverts is how they, colloquially speaking, recharge their brains.
Extroverts gain energy from spending time with other people. They are usually the first ones to strike a conversation with new colleagues, speak out at a meeting or ask if you need any help. Introverts, on the other hand, actually lose energy in large social settings.
Introverts need alone time to recharge. Which is why they often come across reserved, quiet and independent, and usually prefer not to seek help from others, even if they are struggling with the task at hand.
The common assumption that introverts are inherently bad at forming social connections aids the belief that extroverts will always perform better than introverts, especially in social settings.
However, both introverts and extroverts can be on top of their networking game, albeit through different means.
5 tips on how to network if you are an introvert
The simplest way to convey openness is smiling. Contrary to popular belief, introversion doesn’t always equate to being shy. Smiling doesn’t take a lot of effort, and may not always lead to a conversation. In fact, it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown!
Smiling primes the situation and signals to other parties that you are willing to interact with them, without having to start one yourself. Smiling also displays your friendliness and makes you less intimidating to others, opening up possibilities for new connections with people who may have previously found you to be unapproachable or distant.
2. approach the lonesome newcomer
Introverts are best at one-to-one conversations, so take the chance and strike a casual conversation with colleagues who are by themselves in the pantry or in the lift.
Introverts make up for between a third and half of the world’s population, so chances are some of the people you’ve been hesitating to approach are feeling the same way about having to deal with a conversation. The easiest way to social network as an introvert is to locate fellow introverts.
3. prepare conversation-guiding questions
To prepare for the actual networking and how to start a conversation, it helps to know what you would want to say first. Preparing a set of generic, open-ended questions to ask when the time to network comes could help ease those nerves. Open-ended questions are ideal because they encourage the other person to offer more than just one-word answers, allowing you to probe further and get them to explain more, or share their viewpoints and perspectives with you.
People love talking about themselves and what they think. Since introverts are great listeners, you’ll not only be able to forge new relationships, but also get to know your colleagues better and gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
Preparation is key to capitalise on this strength if improvisation doesn’t come to you naturally. Some questions that you can prepare ahead of time can include:
- what is your role and what do you do?
- what projects are you working on now?
- what are you having for lunch?
- what did you do over the weekend?
4. make sure others are listening to you too
We all know that introverts are great listeners. It is with no doubt that the ability to listen with sincerity and intent is a crucial skill to have in the workplace.
However, it is important to understand that social networking requires a two-way interaction. If you find the conversation is dominated by one person, try to direct it back to you by acknowledging their experiences and sharing your own as well.
Getting others to listen to you is key in building the foundation for a long-term reciprocative relationship.
5. focus on the quality, not the quantity
Some people enter the office or a networking event with a numerical goal of how many new people they want to network with, and this focus on quantity hardly works for introverts. Giving out as many name cards as you can may result in having more diversified connections, but it is not the best social strategy if you are looking to form meaningful relationships.
Stronger professional relationships come from having deeper conversations, something that introverts are good at, and welcome. For introverts, focussing on the quality of a relationship or conversation over the quantity would also make them less likely to exhaust their social quota for the day.
networking is an essential skill
No matter how much we do not like having face-to-face conversations with our colleagues, being able to network is an essential soft skill to have. It helps connect you with experts who can support you in your professional development, forge meaningful relationships in the workplace and even give you a reason to look forward to coming to work.
Networking is also critical if you are looking for new career opportunities in a more exciting industry or with an ideal employer. Your ability to develop relationships with people across different seniority levels and professions could potentially help you open doors to companies or people you aspire to work for.
Are you an introvert and looking for a job? Would you prefer to have a digital experience rather meet with a recruiter for a coffee chat?
You may either look at the job opportunities in Malaysia and apply for those that match your career expectations through our website, or tell us what you are looking for and we’ll connect with you when an opportunity pops up. Don’t worry, we will not call you for a chat unless we really have something that is suitable for you.