What if I told you that you could still “Network” and not interact with a single stranger?
But isn’t that what “networking” is? Building your “network” of people you know?
But that’s only one half, one side, one kind of networking…
I have great news for the introverts of the world!
(Which, by the way, research has shown to be between 40-50% of the population. So if you aren’t an introvert yourself, you are literally surrounded by them.)
It surprises people to hear that introverts make up such a large portion of our population.
And that’s probably because American society has, for the last 100-ish years, explicitly valued extroversion and many of its related characteristics like charisma, gregariousness, assertiveness, and social engagement.
Although being outgoing and being an extrovert is NOT the same - just like shyness and introversion are NOT the same - our society has associated those traits so closely many people think of them as synonyms.
Which is incorrect.
So if you’re one of the folks (like me) who recharges their battery by being alone and gains energy from taking a break to process (re: an introvert) then listen up!
But, wait, what if I’m an extrovert?
This totally applies to you, too!
But you already get validation from society on your innate way of interacting with the world, so I’m giving the introverts a feature moment here!
You get a section at the end though, don’t worry :)
Why does networking usually suck?
Because the old school, outdated kind of networking - where stuffy professionals in suits mill around a room shaking hands, handing out business cards, and making small talk - is the literal antithesis of how an introvert functions.
And TBH a lot of extroverts don’t like it either.
Because it’s meaningless, surface-level interaction.
No one is actually getting to know anyone.
There’s no authenticity in the interactions; it’s all performative.
There’s no vulnerability in the conversations; it’s all about the weather or the latest sporting event or who got kicked off The Bachelor last week.
This is where Social Excellence comes in!
Introverts crave interpersonal interactions which are fewer, but deeper.
And Social Excellence, at its core, is all about deepening human connections and creating meaningful relationships.
So if we make “networking” more Socially Excellent, then we also make it more introvert-friendly.
It’s a win-win!
And because extroverts can be successful at small-talk networking anyway, making networking more meaningful only makes extroverts like it more!
So what’s the other half, other side, other kind of networking?
There are two sides to networking:
Adding new relationships to your network
Strengthening the existing relationships in your network
That small-talk, surface-level “networking event” = (a really bad attempt at) #1 .
And that make-it-rain-with-business-cards event completely ignores #2.
I’m here to tell you that it is perfectly acceptable and completely necessary to not always add new people to your network.
Introverts will thrive on a network of real, authentic, genuine connections.
Which only comes from time and energy dedicated to those relationships.
How can I strengthen my network?
Check out these easy ways you can engage with people you already know to show support and develop your connection:
Leave an online review for their business, organization, or service.
When you need to pick something up, deliver something, or see someone in person for whatever reason, turn that into a 30-minute coffee date rather than just an item exchange.
Send a text/DM telling them you appreciate them, or something that made you think of them.
Send them a picture of the two of you with a note about that memory.
Don’t just like or scroll past posts on social media - give a comment or DM to people in your network to show you paid attention and engaged with the content.
When you say “hey we should hang out sometime” actually follow through and put something on the calendar. When you set the event you get to suggest the time/date/location so you can make it something comfortable for you.
Refer someone you know to a local business you like.
Scroll through your phone contacts or friends/followers list and say hi to people you haven’t been in contact with for a while. Don’t know what to say? Send a meme with a short note.
Invite 2-4 people to go with you to a thing you are already doing.
You don’t have to add another event to the calendar. Inviting a few others gives you a better chance of having someone be available, keeps the group small, and allows those other people to create connections, too!
Networking is strengthening our existing connections, not just adding new connections!
I dare you :)
A note for our extroverted friends:
This lesson is for you as well!
Because sometimes yall need to be reminded to deepen existing connections instead of constantly creating new ones and leaving them in “acquaintance” status.
And especially if 40-50% of the people around you are introverts, then a lot of those connections you’re making are with introverts. And they crave meaningful relationships and interactions.
Of course, extroverts crave real relationships, too.
Yall can just also draw energy from other people in a variety of interpersonal interactions.
So get deep, get personal, get real.
And watch how your network grows.
Watch how you level up.
Did you try it? Do you want to prove me wrong?
I want to hear about how this plays out for you!
I for real, actually want to hear from you with your stories - so DM me at @KarliShermanProductions or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to schedule a FREE consultation about how Social Excellence can help you and your organization level up and create better human connection?
Grab a time on my calendar HERE!