I was oh so glad to run across this article from Business Pundit on networking advice for introverts. Business Pundit's Rob puts it so well:
- I have a problem. I'm an introvert. I'm not shy. I'm not afraid of being in public. But I am horrible at chit-chat and gossip. If I spend an evening at a social function with people I don't know or don't like, I get home and feel like I've spent all day at the ocean. It's that fighting-the-waves and drained-by-the-sun kind of tired.
And he offers some ways to work around introversion when it comes to networking. It's funny, because I just did an interview with Josh at Business Networking Advice, so I've been doing some thinking about networking and how I'm really bad at it in the traditional sense. I really don't like networking events, or even the word "networking." I like to build relationships by learning what someone needs and, if at all possible, helping them out. That person may or may not ever be able to reciprocate, but I believe s/he will pay it forward, and the person they helped will do the same, and ultimately the circle closes back to me. Or not. It really doesn't matter. See, I told you I'm a terrible networker.
What I'd love to see is a networking event that isn't so painfully all about "what's in it for me?" and collecting a bunch of business cards, but rather helps people find and nourish human, rather than business, connections. I know, I'm naive and proving it once again, but that's an event even I would find meaningful.