I was discussing Networking with one of my colleagues the other day when he turned around to me and said, in all honesty “I’m not a natural networker because I am an introvert!” I stood there with my mouth hanging open . . . for several seconds. You see, I am a natural networker and I am also an introvert! Ok everybody, you can get up off the floor now and stop laughing! I am an introvert! Ask my shrink!
It’s not that I am shy around people or afraid to be in public. Those of you who know me can attest to that. I not too good at small talk though, I much prefer to get into debates on issues that are important to me or not . . . Being with people on a constant basis often leaves me completely drained of all energy and I spend most weekends, on my own, relishing in the ‘space’ that I have on my own without any other people around me.
I am not ‘naturally’ good with people and although I have been told that I am a ‘people’s person’, I don’t feel that way at all. Mixing with people and interacting with them is a conscious thing for me and it is something that I have to work at – hard.
Why do I work hard at it? Well that’s quite simple – you see I understand the value of networking. I don’t see networking as a waste of time or a pain in the butt (although generally speaking, for introverts it is exactly that).
Networking for me, is me investing in myself and my company. You see, by developing my network in the way that I have, when I need a particular product or a particular service, I don’t have to spend hours doing research on the internet, or paging through the yellow pages, or time and money sending out endless e-mails looking for help. It takes me one or two phone calls to find the exact person that I am looking for. In fact, if the truth be told, most of my colleagues phone me when they need anything because I usually have that particular contact within my data base.
For me that is a triple win situation. You see not only do I add value to the person who is looking for someone/something, I also add value to the person in my database who is that someone or who can provide that service, but in connecting these two, I have added huge value to myself – both will feel indebted to me and payback is always very sweet!
There’s a great deal more to Networking as an introvert, so more next week.