ComPRehension

Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
January 22, 2009

You Are An Introvert — and Still Need to Network — Here Is a Simple Plan


Networking is an important business tool, resulting in new business, jobs and internal connections and alliances. The idea that networking is for people with outgoing personalities is really false, because introverts have strengths that they can use with strategies that blend well with their personalities.

There are different ways to network — one size does not fit all; and it involves more than just talking to a bunch of people at a function and collecting cards.

It is sometimes strategic and structured at the event. Often it is serendipitous in that we meet and connect in all areas of our life throughout the day and just don’t call it ‘networking.’

Characteristics of Introverts and Extroverts:

Introverts                                                                                             Extroverts 
Recharged by being alone                                                               Energized by contact with others
Prefer listening                                                                                   Talkative
Thoughtful and reflective                                                                  Action oriented
Focused                                                                                               Multi-taskers
May be mistaken as aloof                                                                 Seen as friendly and outgoing
Speaking means they are ready to act                                           Want to speak anytime
Need time and space for themselves                                             Like to surround themselves with others
Keep thoughts to themselves                                                          Talking is “thinking out loud”
React internally                                                                                   React externally

Thoughtful Listeners

Listening carefully to others is a skill that comes easy to introverts, who naturally absorb and use what they hear. Introverts generally spend more time listening and less time talking. This rare trait makes them particularly liked and respected by those who come in contact with them.

The strengths of the introvert include depth of concentration, comfort with the world of ideas and thoughts, and a caring and helpful attitude towards others. Their intuitive minds help them to create solutions that may not be readily apparent to most. Introverts may not consider themselves as particularly social people, but because they can be reliable problem solvers, they are highly sought out for their abilities.

Passionate Conversationalists

When introverts discuss a topic about which they are passionate, their shyness magically disappears. As they focus on an aspect of their industry or talk about a product that they care about, they will naturally speak with enthusiasm. Introverts need a focus and a genuine reason to make a contact, and once they have one, they can become very engaging in conversation.  This makes a very memorable impression on potential clients and contacts. The passion they show will keep them “top of mind” when the contact later needs to make a decision.

By Andrea R. Nierenberg, founder and president, The Nierenberg Group, is a best-selling author and a world-renowned business authority. Called a “networking success story” by The Wall Street Journal, Andrea brings a stellar 25 years as a leader in sales and marketing to the table, making her an in-demand business expert both at home and abroad. Andrea speaks in cross-cultural settings, to international companies and at conferences. Her company partners with an array of the world’s leading businesses, including Citigroup, Time Inc., TIAA-CREF, The Food Network, Omnicom, Coach, Deutsche Bank, Tiffany and Douglas Elliman Real Estate, to name just a few. She serves on the board of the Boy Scouts of America-Greater New York Councils, and has been honored by Office Depot and the National Association for Female Executives as Business Woman of the Year. She also has received the Direct Marketing Association of New York’s Silver Apple Award for her longstanding dedication to the direct marketing industry.

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