March 31, 2011 3 Comments
My good friend and LeadershipChat co-host Lisa Petrilli has a valuable series going on her blog about Introverts Guide to Business and Leadership – she and I share a common bond over this topic since we are both professionals who seek to both leverage, and transcend, our native tendency toward introversion in our professional efforts.
Her post this morning (The Introvert’s Guide to Getting Noticed in Business) sparked a thought about how introverts can successfully build a deep and strong network.
Here’s your starting point: Make Your Own Rules. Specifically, use social networking tools and approaches to change the game to your favor.
You know the standard “rules” that come to mind when you see the word “networking,” right?
- Walking into a crowded room and wondering how to fit in, and who to talk to…
- Trying to join in to or strike up a conversation with people you’re not sure about…
- Exchanging business cards without really knowing why…
- Lather, rinse, repeat.
There are crowded social parties, artificial networking meetings, noisy industry conventions; and you, as an introvert, look at each of these with some level of trepidation. Because the networking “rules” you’ve operated under – the outgoing are the winners, casual chatter is how bridges are built, the more contacts you make the better – none of that fits you. No wonder it doesn’t feel natural.
So – change the rules. Here’s how:
Use digital social networks to “pre-meet” people. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other networks give you the opportunity to build bridges and engage in one-on-one small talk without those crowded environments so that the beginnings of a relationship are already put in place. Then, find a format to meet that person one-on-one – either over coffee, or during a larger gathering.
How did an initial core group driving pharma social media – who have since, with many others, become great friends – find each other? Twitter and blogs, opening the door to live meetings and collaborations. —>
(hey, Brad, we’re overdue for lunch…)
Introverts tend to prefer a more intimate, in-depth, “safe” environment to get to know people. As Lisa states in her post, we prefer to go deep with a smaller number of people. Using social networks, you can meet new people, AND build deeper ongoing relationships, through the relatively safe and controlled environment of exchanged on-line messages. And, you can be far more targeted and strategic than walking into a big room and hoping you find someone with whom you have common ground.
Digital social networks allow you to find common ground right now, without uncomfortable events, and to start to build a relationship that can later blossom in an ongoing way. Everything you need to find the right people in a targeted way is available through these amazing digital platforms.
And here’s the not-so-secret secret – most people really want to have someone who knows them as an individual. People respond to the introvert way – deeper communication, one-on-one caring, thoughtful planning. Plus, if you take the time and trouble to “feed” the people in your network (something many introverts do quite naturally) with information and connections you discover – you’re golden.