There’s a myth out there that extraverts make better networkers. (In fact, there’s a lot of myths out there about introverts and extraverts but lo, I digress.) The ‘extraverts-make-better-networkers’ myth takes on various forms, including one of my favorites: to be a better networker, just be more extraverted.
What’s extraversion got to do with it?
Networking skills are social skills and social skills are learned. That means networking skills and a preference for introversion or extraversion are independent concepts. One does not imply the other.
Whether or not you have mastered a set of networking skills depends mostly on your upbringing, your emotional maturity, your self-awareness, your aspirations, and your ambition. It has very little to do with your innate preference for introversion and extraversion.
Introverts and extraverts can learn networking skills equally well. Some do. Many do not. Good networking skills are not natural to anyone. They are learned.
It is worth noting that extraverts often think that they are better networkers.
Extraverts have a natural propensity to be congenial and talkative. They connect easily with other people and often have a broad base of acquaintances. Many extraverts are continuously on the lookout for new people and are generous in making introductions.
However, these behaviors are not necessarily ‘networking.’
What is networking anyway?
Networking is actually much more than those stereotypical extrovert behaviors. It’s any activity that creates, freshens, or strengthens a relationship with someone. These links between you and the people you know have a life of their own — they ebb and flow in freshness, strength, and intensity over time.
Good networking is leveraging who and what you know to help the people in your network be successful. Powerful networking comes in the wake of a constant exchange of information and favors within your network. It goes way beyond being gregarious and congenial.
Actions that nurture, freshen, and strengthen links are networking. Anything that does not create, freshen, or strengthen links is not.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ in networking
There is a deeper, more insidious implication buried in the myth that extraverts make better networkers. It implies that there is only one way to network — namely, the way that the extraverts appear to be networking.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Networking is a deeply personal and human endeavor. Everyone is different, as is every relationship. The way that you create and nurture links in your network will be as unique and inspired as you are.
There is no ‘one’ way to network. And there is certainly no need to be more extraverted to be a better networker. Anything that creates, freshens and strengthens links — for you — is networking. Anything! And any activity that does not create, freshen, or strengthen a link for you is not networking — for you!
Lean in: Why the holidays are a good time to strengthen your network
As the holiday season kicks into high gear, I encourage you to lean into your networking. It is a great time to freshen and strengthen links.
Take a look at your address book and make a note of any people with whom your connection has faded. Reach out. Send out Christmas cards. Find out what people are up to and give them a sense of what you are working on. Use the plethora of holiday gatherings to create new connections. Make an effort to be helpful. Explore who and what you know that might help someone else be successful.
And if you want to super-charge your networking — and learn how to build a better and stronger network — I’m offering a networking master class in Durham on December 05.
This will be the first time ever I combine everything I know into a single class and I’d love to see you there. Check out the details on the registration page. Use the code master01 for a 15% discount.
I wish you success.