Networking for Extroverts

In order to effectively discuss networking we must first think about it through the context of personality.  And, to repeat from the last issue, no matter whether you identify as an introvert or extrovert or somewhere in between, it’s important to remember that our personalities exist on a spectrum and depending on the day, situation, or people – we may fluctuate in our introverted or extroverted qualities.  Last issue of “Push the Bird” I discussed networking for introverts. If you missed it, A) you’re rude, and B) we can still be friends, just check it out here.

weather someecardThis issue is for my extroverts.  Extroverts, this is coming from one of your own so focus up!  A lot of times people don’t think we need networking advice.  They think we could hold a conversation with a park bench.  And though they may be right, that doesn’t mean that extroverts are executing these conversations effectively.  So before we get into some networking tips let’s first break us down.

Here are some things we know about extroverts:

  1. Extroverts tend to draw their energy from being in larger groups of people.  They feed off of others’ spirit.  Sometimes when extroverts are left alone for too long they get uncomfortable.  Silence is only acceptable in small doses, another reason why they are good at initiating conversations.
  2. Extroverts have a lot of “friends” and not as many friends.  My wife likes to make fun of me because I make “friends” wherever I go.  I’ll come home after being out and tell her about my boy, Mike.  She asks how long have I known Mike? I respond, “oh, I just met him.”  Extroverts are great friendship starters. We get people on “team us” quickly but there is a flip side to this…
  3. Extroverts often long for deeper relationships but get caught up making a bunch of new ones.  I do it all of the time.  If I go out with my long-time friends and one of them brings some friend from college along, I’ll spend most of the night talking to the new guy.  Extroverts like new shiny things, we have social ADHD.
  4. One misconception that we have of extroverts is they are all confident.  Extroversion and confidence are not synonymous.  Take it from someone who struggles in this area but is a giant extrovert.

Now that we have politely stereotyped extroverts, let’s consider how extroverts can best navigate networking situations.  Here are my tips for your next networking event, alumni dinner, professional social, etc.:

  1. Slow down cowboy/girl:  Events like these are not races to see who can shake the most hands and kiss the most babies.  Make a plan for what type of people you want to talk with before you walk in so that when you get there you know who to spend your energy getting to know.  Reason being, you can, and normally would, talk to anyone but you have a goal in mind this evening and that goal is not: “most amount of handshakes executed ever at an alumni event.”  The goal is to create meaningful memorable relationships with individuals doing what you want to do in your life.
  2. Focus:  Extroverts, you know how when you’re talking to someone and then you see someone else walk in and you start thinking about how you want to talk to that new person?  That’s not going to happen tonight, so lock it up and focus on whomever you’re speaking to!  Do yourself a favor and orient yourself so that your back is to everything else going on when you’re having a conversation.  Focus on asking great follow up questions and share about yourself at appropriate moments.
  3. Be a connector:  One thing extroverts are usually great at is connecting people.  Our conversations sometimes sound like, “Wait, so you like (insert random indie band that 4 people know about)?  My friend loves them!  Hey, Ricky come over here, this girl loves that band that you always talk about that none of us have heard of.”  The extrovert then introduces the two parties, and slips out of the conversation to speak to someone new.   In networking situations extroverts can’t lose this skill.  Being able to connect people increases your social clout and makes you more valuable to stay in touch with.
  4. Play to your strengths:  Let your charisma flow and continue to be warm and charming.  You are great at starting conversations and being memorable!

As I said in the last post directed to my introverted friends, whether you are an introvert or extrovert, the idea of networking and making sure you make a good impression can be a very intimidating process; but, the more you play to your natural strengths, the easier it will be to navigate. If you have thoughts about extroverts and networking or just want to practice, tweet at me: @JamesTRobo

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