Be Gentle When Networking With Introverts

Chris Carlson

Christopher Carlson, Director of Talent Acquisition and Diversity, Tennessee Valley Authority
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc
Blogs from Christopher Carlson

The 2015 NACE Conference is just around the corner and we all know what that means—networking, best practices, learning, and fun. To prepare last year, I wrote a blog about survival tips for the introverts attending the conference. Another introvert appreciated my comments and asked me to present in a peer-to-peer session on introverts. I had to say yes to support my fellow introverts—remember, we can still be outgoing and friendly.

This year, in preparation for the conference, I wanted to share tips on how extroverts can get the most out of us methodical, introspective, and often brilliant introverts (you know I’m smiling as I write this). So here are some networking tips for our extrovert friends:

  • Pauses are not responses: Don’t assume that when an introvert pauses in the conversation that he/she has nothing to say. We like to marinate on a topic and formulate a response in our heads before speaking. Extroverts are known to “think out loud.” Allow an introvert a moment to process a response internally.
  • Approach “gently:” If you have ever driven through Maryland, the state welcomes you on their sign with a nice slogan of “Please drive gently.” In a similar fashion, approach introverts gently with a simple “Hello, how are you?” This approach is a great way to allow an introvert to become comfortable. Don’t jump right in and pretend to be his or her best friend. We introverts do warm up, but it takes us a minute to get comfortable and to feel safe. Once comfortable, you can’t get some of us to stop talking—trust me, I have friends that would pay someone to shut me up at times.
  • Don’t take offense: If you ever see an introvert, a true introvert, in a large crowd of people where everyone is networking, you will notice one of two scenarios: The introvert is probably drinking to help become comfortable with all the noise and people, or the introvert will become exhausted quickly and will want to run out of the room.

If we seem to be distant or look like we want to run away as fast as we can, trust me, we like you and we want to spend time talking to you, but we’re overwhelmed by the surroundings. Try walking with us to a quieter spot or move the conversation to where there are fewer people. You will see that we are going to be more inclined to engage when not surrounded. (When I lived in Los Angeles, my friends would invite me to all sorts of parties. They had a bet to see who could get me to actually show up. It was rare, but I did show up to a few gatherings.)

These are just three tips for you extroverts out there on how to optimize your networking with us. Suzanne Helbig from UC, Irvine and I will be sharing more about the great insights you can gain from introverts at the conference, I hope you join us in a peer-to-peer session on Wednesday, June 3.

2 thoughts on “Be Gentle When Networking With Introverts

  1. Good advice. FYI – Thought you might enjoy attached about 4 different approaches to networking based on 4 different connecting styles including “analytical” and “supportives” – 2 more introverted styles. file:///Users/stevenlurie/Dropbox/Networking%20With%20Style.htm

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