I detest labels because they are catalysts for assumptions. Labeling creates an unhealthy compulsion to put everyone into categories and I think that humans are more complex than that. So, bear with me. I am going to be talking about introverts – in a generalized fashion – because some introverts feel left behind when everyone is touting the benefits of networking.
As for me, I am the quintessential introvert. You would not know it by my profession. I meet new people daily and speaking in front of large crowds does not intimidate me. Introverts are misunderstood. We are not shy. We are not anti-social, and we certainly do not dislike people. We are quiet and reflective. Our private time gives us an energy boost compared to others who get a rush from being surrounded by people. That is why you may have one outgoing persona at work, but your neighbors rarely see you. When you do something outside of your natural personality, you need time to refresh.
And then there is networking. When it comes to networking, it can be exhausting for an introvert. However, a hesitation to do it can stunt career growth.
If you are looking to make changes in your career or to venture into the entrepreneurial world, active networking is beneficial. Networking builds solid relationships over time. It allows you to meet people you can assist as well as those who can return the favor when you need it.
Crucial networking benefits include:
- Gathering insider info on your industry.
- Gaining a source of fresh ideas.
- Bouncing your latest ideas off people.
- Gaining a flow of clients and customers.
- Raising your profile.
- Opening new doors.
- Widening your support network.
It is hard to argue with the many benefits of networking, but if it is mentally draining, you will not push yourself to do it.
That’s where social media comes in. Technology has become a BFF for introverts. Social media is a perfect medium that simplifies communication. Technology and social media platforms have empowered the introvert to engage and exchange ideas without the burden of face-to-face interaction.
Social media assists introverts in showcasing their social side – on their terms. Here are five key ways the introvert can rule networking:
1. AN EQUAL VOICE FOR ALL.
The gregarious extrovert can vocally overpower an introvert if they are not careful. Social media puts the introvert on equal footing in a world that can sometimes be extrovert-driven. With social media, the introvert can spend their energy showcasing their creative and strategic strengths instead of feeling like their voice is minimized. Introverts can have an equal voice without the taxing face-to-face interactions with networking.
2. INTRODUCTIONS ARE MADE EASY.
For anyone who has found it difficult to walk up to a person and make an introduction, striking up an initial online conversation can put you at ease. The thought of talking to someone face-to-face becomes far less daunting if you have had a previous form of contact. Social media can be an effective way to navigate your introduction in a low-key, yet professional manner.
3. INTROVERTS HAVE TIME TO SYNTHESIZE AND PROCESS.
Many introverts find it easier to offer thoughts and ideas through written communication without the pressure of being put on the spot. One reason social interaction is draining is because conversation and communication require immediate responses. Technology allows an introvert to read online communication and take their time to easily formulate a response. They can fully sort through and understand communications and can absorb information at their own pace.
4. INTROVERTS CAN SHOWCASE THEIR EXPERTISE.
Being the center of attention is not always comfortable for an introvert. Online communication can be essential for information-sharing and to ensure that all talents are represented easily and fairly. Sharing your skills, expertise, and knowledge online helps to showcase and demonstrate your talents without the discomfort of putting yourself out there.
5. AN EASIER WAY TO BRAND YOURSELF.
While introverts may tend to shy away from the spotlight, branding is still a crucial part of your professional identity. Thanks to social media platforms, each person can create, develop, or expand their personal brand. If you have a message that you want to transmit to the world, having a good personal brand will reflect who you are in a way that matters. Online branding will help you attract like-minded people who are on your same path or who will look to you to help show them the way. Growing and managing your brand is a process of structuring your personal identity without losing your integrity or diminishing your personal values.
SOCIAL MEDIA SHOULD NOT BE A CRUTCH
The downside to online networking is that it is easy to use it as a crutch that keeps you chained in your comfort zone. It should not be a replacement for in-person conversations that can form significant relationships. You will eventually need to attend some face-to-face meetings, but using technology to play to your strengths will take the focus off being left behind when the whole world seems to be touting the benefits of networking.
You can still gain the benefits – but it is on your terms.