Tales of a Professional Introvert: Homework and Networking

In my last article I described a small sample of what characteristics professional introverts like myself possess and what we go through on a daily basis. However as an introvert these skills or superpowers as I like to call them, can drive success better than our extroverted counterparts. I wanted to share how to utilise these powers in key critical success factors in our working lives;  Homework, Networking, Selling and Delivering.

Homework

Before diving into the big three, as with anything we need to do our homework. THIS. This is where we unequivocally thrive.

  • Game Plan 
    • Dependant on what your goal or task is, first and foremost develop your game plan, what are the objectives, make a list of 2-3 objectives e.g. need to meet this person or identify specific topics that need addressing.
  • Research
    • As we love to research, utilise every source available to you. If you’re attending a networking event, try and get an attendees list. If it’s a workshop, what will be discussed/ presented, any way that can be used to your advantage. Contact people in advance, social profile them, find a way to connect to them directly or through a connector.
  • Personal Brand
    • As an introvert we like to build credibility based on caring, providing value and our expertise; prestige if you will. It is critical to spend time to get this message, this brand of yours developed, documented and ingrained into your mindset and subsequently of others.

Check these articles on how to develop a game plan and your value proposition.

Networking

Now this is the most daunting for us right? “What? You mean I have to actually be there in person and talk to strangers? What will they think of me? What will I say outside of hello? Oh no my hands are all sweaty already!”. No matter how many events I have been to, I still get this feeling. But, it’s okay and you know why, because of those superpowers we have. You’ve prepared, you know your objectives, you’ve done your research, you have your own personal brand. Now you need to execute. It all simply starts with saying “Hi”. It is honestly that simple, saying “Hi” activates a connection, because everything else that follows will be natural, because you avoid small talk and immediately focus on what is important to you.

The biggest skill you have is the ability to not only listen, but listen attentively. You have the innate dexterity to absorb and relate to that discussion, because you will be asking open ended questions to connect. For example; what did you think of that presentation? How do you want this to work? Where do you think the biggest improvements are needed? This will keep the focus on that person or group. This will then enable you to relate to and home in on the goals you have set. That in turn helps adjust the daunting mindset that you are actually networking. Also, remember you may have already reached out to a contact or connector in advance, so in effect there is no ice to break, but simply activating an existing connection. As you have done your homework on your personal brand and message, the key is to keep that consistency through each conversation, appearance and event.

One of the hardest things I had to learn was learn how to end strategically. It was easy at first as usually the other person left which by ended things by default. Even though I had met my goal of making contact, which was great, but what was the use if no follow up. So end the connection with an action, be it a meeting, coffee, phone call, contact details etc. Even better arrange the date there and then. Most of us now have our calendars digitally on our phones and it’s not too difficult send the calendar invite of an agreed time then. A quick checklist summarising the above:

  • Listen and ask Open Ended Questions
  • Focus on achieving your goals
  • Be consistent in your message and shine your personal brand
  • Ensure there is an action or follow up

Next time let’s look at Selling and Delivering. As always, welcome comments and your thoughts!

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