Introverts Can Be Relationship Networkers Too

Today I signed up for a webinar titled “Relationship Networking: Building Personal Connections for Professionals”.  I have to say this one the very best webinars I’ve attended in a while. I was on the edge of my seat, lapping up every word coming out of my Macbook speaker.

Want to know my big big takeaway.. from all the words of wisdom dispensed…?  I’ll tell you anyway.


See I am a closet introvert who appears as an extrovert in public.  I love meeting and greeting people.  But I sure don’t get energy from doing so, and I live for the moment when I can be alone to recharge!  Introverts are great listeners.  Extroverts are great conversationalists.  We both bring key traits to the table when it comes to networking.

Just in case I haven’t bated you enough to read this post in its entirety, networking is about giving, and giving with no expectation of getting something back.  In reality, the more you give, the more others will be willing to give back in return.  So odds are great that through giving you will receive much.

Now back to the webinar….

The presenter Michelle Tillis Lederman (author of “11  Laws of Likability” / “Heroes get Hired” ) was absolutely engaging and had real practical information to impart (I know I had my introvert takeaway, but do read-on cause I guarantee you you’ll pick up at least one tidbit).   To be clear, I am restating what I heard from Michelle unless I state otherwise.  These are for sure NOT my ideas. Remember, I am a novice at networking.

Why network?

Simple.  90% of Executive level jobs come from networking (80%+ below Executive level).  People would rather do business with people they like, than hire a cheaper employee, according to Michelle.  Networking isn’t about work, but anything we can talk about.  Relationship networking is a longterm perspective (Its not about you or the other person, its about a relationship between you and someone else.  Think of networking as just another way to make friends.  {If you are ex-employed, your first conversation should definitely not be about the job you’re looking for. My sidebar}

Start and keep going

  1. Ask open ended phrasing: “How do you …” .  Or “What made you…”  Be authentic with what you want to know {please don’t inquire about something you have no interest in}
  2. Listen to probe / Listen to share:  Find areas of commonality
  3. Connect: Establish similarity.  Seek next step
  4. Close: Create positive memory.  People remember how you make them feel more than anything that was said.  People remember if you made them feel calm, or the smile on your face.   Make them want to connect with you again.  Figure out next contact with that person.. coffee, LinkedIn, email etc.

What makes a good networker?

Someone who is curious, sincere, show their authentic self, and has a giving nature.  {All qualities that are in extroverts and introverts.  Though introverts are generally more comfortable in a 1×1 situation, and extroverts in a group — not sure why I felt to need to make this point. ah well}

Why don’t we follow up?  How to minimize excuses

Some excuses why we don’t followup after meeting someone include:  Not sure what to say, too much time passed by, don’t want to bother them, fear of rejection, no time, no value in the connection etc.

If you don’t perceive value in the connection, think again.  If you don’t like the person, you don’t know where the relationship may lead you,  You don’t know who they may be connected to. When you find an authentic connection, that person will be very willing to help you.  At the same time not all connections need to be extended.  But everyone can benefit from growing a bit in their networking.

How to build familiarity?

People feel comfortable with who they know we like (familiarity). Meaning if you like me {no need to respond, yikes} then by extension you will accept an invite from an LinkedIn associate of mine.  Some techniques for building familiarity

  1. Light touch: Reach out to an individual just to say Happy Birthday or Tell Mary I said hello
  2. Leverage Technology: FB, LinkedIn, Twitter… pick your favorite 3 based on the audience you’re trying to reach.  Twitter is becoming good for job connections.  LinkedIn is a great way to see who we all know in common.   Every professional must be on LinkedIn and have a headshot.   Law of Association.  People trust who they know.  You know Mary, so you much be good.

The law of giving

Most critical is to give first.  Give because you can.  Give without having an expectation that you will get something back.  Introduce people, Invite people, Share information.

Invitations//Introductions: If you have information that others may be interested in, send to them.  E.g. Share invitations to events even if you won’t be there.

Information: Someone mentions they are traveling, take a few minutes of your time, provide information on the destination.  Information is a gift to the person.  Make it relevant.

LinkedIn:  Endorsements and recommendations are a gift.  Connect people on LinkedIn.  Protocol is reach out to person first and ask their permission before connecting and when you do let both parties know why you are connecting them.

Giving and asking

How you might approach someone you want to network with ..

The Opt Out ask… ask for something but give the person an opportunity to say no.. e.g. I would love a recommendation but if your company does not allow, I understand.  Its ok.

The Alternative ask… give them a choice. e.g. I can come to your place or we can meet at Starbucks

The Shrinking ask … make the ask smaller and smaller… e.g. Can we do lunch, or coffee or phone call….

The Non ask… You don’t really ask (its more of an implicit ask)..e.g. ‘I want my book to make the best seller list…” Just put it out there and see what jumps out.

The law of patience: Give it time

Be patient with:

  1. Results: Things come to us in surprising ways.
  2. Giving Back: You’ll get a chance to help
  3. Relationships: Friendships grow in time.  Don’t assume if you don’t click with someone immediately that you never will.

Things that can get in the way: Cultural differences

English isn’t your first language or when there are cultural differences.

We are global.  Be open.  If English is not your first language use it to you advantage.  Make others comfortable, ask for advice maybe on how to communicate an idea.  You make people feel valued by asking (but be sincere).  Use your uniqueness to enhance the connection.

Perception that story tellers are better networkers

Storytellers share personal information with emotion; therefore, they tend to make other people comfortable.  They are willing to make themselves vulnerable, which builds their credibility.  In return others tend to open up.  Advice for storytellers:  make your story concise and know why you are sharing. {Michelle didn’t give a definitive yes or no response on story tellers being better networkers, but my take away was that the technique of telling a story can be quite effective.  If you’re comfortable and authentic with this approach}

Final thoughts on networking

Do not network for ‘now’. Networking is for life.

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Social Influence, Problem Solving and Ideation, Relationships, Conflict, Power and Office Politics

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