Even if you are introverted, you can be a skilled strategic networker. All it takes is personal leadership, knowing your own type and the courage to stand by it.
”As a networker you need to be able to lead inwards, outwards and upwards as well as being proactive in the areas where you want to attract someone’s attention, being the specific project or company you work with. Also, you need to try to understand the surrounding world and navigate in the sea of stakeholders. But that also entails that you understand how you are perceived by others and that you are able to adjust your behavior”, Susie Lynge points out.
As an introverted personality, you need to turn yourself up a little bit. You need to set yourself small goals that you are able to fulfill. You need to be active in expanding your network and you need to be proactive. You strength is, that you are good at observing situations. You think, before you speak. You are calm, you listen and therefore it takes you a bit longer to take the initiative. You are very good in the 1:1 relation. But on the other hand, this means that you put a lot of energy into being in a social situation with a lot of people you might not know.
“As an introverted networker you need to be able to look at yourself from outside. You need to guide yourself, so you can deliver the best version of yourself when meeting new people. Introverted personalities are often good at listening, put emphasis on facts and have a specialist attitude. But if you want to network, you sometimes have to give more of yourself than you actually want to. It is necessary in order to the network to remember you, recommend you or want to work together with you,” says Susie Lynge.
It takes some preparation to become a skilled networker. You need to explore yourself. What comes easy? What is difficult? You need to dare working with the things that challenge you. That way you will lidt yourself automatically.
“Preparation is one of the things that can make it easier and more comfortable for you in a networking situation. That is why you need to prepare on how you want to be perceived. You might want to be perceived as a bit more open, so prepare some questions you want to ask to get conversations going – and then force yourself to actually ask them,” says Susie Lynge.
As an example of a small thing that matters a lot is eye contact. You should never be afraid of looking people in the eyes. It is not intrusive.
”It has a lot of value for the receiver that you lift your body language when networking. People want to be looked in the eyes. It makes them feel safe when they can see, for instance, if you agree or disagree,” Susie Lynge points out.
So do not start thinking that you should avoid conferences and drop networking all together. On the other hand, you need to actively choose your networking, so you have control over the situation. You need to be and give more of yourself – on your own terms.
Susie Lynge’s experience is that introverted networkers can be a little rigid in their body language in comparison to extroverted networkers. So you need to work on your body language as well.
”You need to show that you listen, you need to look up, gesticulate and show that you are present in the conversation. As an introvert you listen, sense a lot of details that other people do not pick up and you collect data and knowledge. You prepare yourself for your contribution and that is good. But you need to show it to your surroundings as well,” Susie Lynge says about being more aware of your networking style.
”People become insecure when there are no reactions. People quickly interpret and might think that you are actually signaling that what they are saying is boring. Or maybe that they are boring? So my advice is to really be aware of your body language and show that you are actively listening,” she says.
Engineers, IT-specialists and natural sciences specialists are often very professionally minded people. They often times know something that other people do not know. But it is essential that you meet other professions with equality, if you want other people to share something with, recommend or help you.
“As a highly skilled or scientific professional you need to meet other people with recognition and respect. You need to know that other people are just as good as you, even though they have other professions,” Susie Lynge makes clear.