If you are an introvert like me, but your goals, aspirations, or just your 9-5 job requires that you actually interact and build relationships with people that you don’t know on a regular basis, this blog post is for you.
How do you know that you’re an introvert? Well, the Myers Briggs Personality test ( you can take a version of the test here), will break down your personality type using 4 domains (we won’t be talking about all of those 4 right now). The first two letters are either “E” for extrovert or “I” for introvert. Introvert is defined as “a person who gains energy from being alone and loses energy in stimulating environments, such as social events.”(source:https://introvertspring.com/what-is-an-introvert/)
For the purposes of this post, we will say that extroverts are the opposite of introverts, but that is overly simplistic and not entirely true (don’t come after me, psych majors! I come in peace, for I am one of you. 🙂
I took the Myers Briggs my first year of medical school. The psychologist that administered the test to all of us came up to me when she saw the puzzled look on my face. I was labeled “E”, but anyone who truly knows me knows that that is a JOKE. She explained to me that I was one point over on the extroverted side, but that I am likely an “extroverted introvert”.
This describes me to a T.
Now I was left to navigate the world with this knowledge.
What I’ve learned about myself after many years is that I am great with interacting with people if (1) I feel a connection with them and/ or (2) I feel a connection with the topic of discussion. If either of those things are off, I want to retreat into a shell, (i.e., go home.) I am no good at parties when people come up and start discussing the weather. I. Don’t. Do. Small. Talk. Like, I can’t even fake it (although I will fake needing to use the restroom in order to escape—not proud of this, but it’s my truth). Being with and talking to other people drains my internal battery, and I need alone time to refill it. My husband, Adrian, is the exact opposite. In general, he thrives on socializing and this really energizes him.
What I’ve learned about the world I live in, and particularly my line of work, is that this is not going to fly. I am often invited to networking events and other social gatherings that require me to have sometimes mundane discussions without running away. This is hard for me, y’all!
I went to a networking even with Adrian last year. The event was about 100 people milling around. It required introductions and small talk as the participants did not know each other. I am usually able to pull a little from my “E” side to make it through the event for short chunks of time before recharging in the bathroom. However, I really struggled that day. So, what did I do? I hung out by the food, and whomever came up to me and positioned themselves to make small talk, I pretended that I was eating, drinking, or getting more food. It was bad. I ended up finding a couple of people I knew, and just hanging around them.
That’s terrible! THAT’S NOT NETWORKING. If you’re an introvert, don’t be like I was on that day. Let me give you some tips that I have honed over the years to get you through networking events in the least painful way possible.
Here are my 5 tips for surviving a networking event as an introvert: Plan, Break, Spin, Stick, and Bounce.
- Plan – If you have a networking event coming up, do not plan another event right before or after. You are an introvert: That means you need time to recharge your internal battery which is drained by speaking to others. This was the problem that I had the day I went to the event with Adrian. I had been giving workshops and sitting in on meetings all day, and my internal battery was all the way drained. This was not good planning. Ideally if at all possible, make sure you don’t have several battery-draining events going on in the same day. If that is not possible, at least give yourself a break prior to the networking event. If I had prioritized centering myself and recharging before the event, I would not have had to hide by the punch bowl.
- Break – Let’s say your networking event is two hours long: I recommend giving yourself at least a 20–30- minute break during the course of the time you are there. Go to your car and sit for 10 minutes and veg out. Step outside for some fresh air. You already know my predilection for hiding in the bathroom when all else fails. Don’t take all 30 minutes at once; instead, take three 10-minute breaks or six 5-minute breaks. Basically, you are going to want to take breaks in order to recharge that introvert battery of yours. If you don’t do this, you run the risk of leaving the event on EMPTY, and vowing never to go to another social again. This is not good because we all know your network is your net worth (it’s suuuuuper duper cliché, but also very true).
- Spin – Nothing drains an introvert’s battery more than small talk. If someone walks up to you with a cheery smile on their face and say, “How about the weather lately?”, you could do one of three things: run away from them (not recommended!); actually discuss the weather (also, not recommended, because you will be internally weary in 5 seconds flat); or spin. What do I mean by spin? Turn draining small talk into a conversation that is meaningful to you. In response to the weather inquiry above, I would say something like, “You know, it has been quite rainy lately. All this rain has really impeded my ability to do (insert xyz that is meaningful to you).” Most people will then inquire about xyz at that moment. Thus, you have successfully spun your way out of a potentially draining convo.
- Stick – Let’s say you find someone at the event who is speaking your language, so to speak. You all are having a great convo, you exchange contact info, and you both decide that you will take over the world together. That is the person you were meant to meet at the networking event! That is the entire reason you went—to meet one person that you connect with and can build a relationship with. If that happens in the first few minutes of the event, then guess what? You’re done! Don’t feel compelled to circulate and meet as many people as possible. Unless it is a speed networking event where you are forced to circulate, stick to that one person. I stated above that your network determines your net worth, however the quality of the networking is much more important than the quantity.
- Bounce – You’ve found your “person”, had a fruitful conversation, and exchanged contact information. You made a meaningful connection, and promised to follow up. Well, my introverted friend, you are DONE! If you’re like me, you feel energized after connecting with this individual. Once the conversation wanes, do not feel compelled to stay at the event. BOUNCE. Leave. Now, if there is entertainment coming up, or you feel the urge to stay and meet more people, then by all means. However, do not feel obligated to do this. You came, you saw, you networked. Now it’s time to bounce.
Want to learn more about the 16 personality types? Click this link if you want to learn more about your unique personality type. I am an ENFJ (so are Oprah and Barak Obama! ENFJs ROCK!).
Are you an introvert? What do you do to make it through networking events? Share your tips and tricks below!
Peace and Love,