Introvert versus extrovert: it’s a bit more nuanced than a question of whether you like and enjoy large groups of people. In fact, most people may not fall on just one side of the spectrum and are a complex mix of both.
The main difference between an extrovert and an introvert: extroverts are energized through socialization and collaboration, and introverts recharge from being alone or in smaller group settings. Depending on what energizes you–and conversely, what drains you–you may show both introverted and extroverted tendencies. If you explore even further, you might be surprised to know that each has different sub-categories. (There are plenty of books and online resources to explore this.)
Being an introvert doesn’t mean you can’t make the boundless networking opportunities here in Cherokee County work to your advantage. It just means you take a different approach to your connection.
Start small. This isn’t a time where you have to “go all in” if you’re nervous about working on expanding your network. Choose one event a week, or even every other week, that you can start attending and make a plan to speak to one new person each time you go.
Listen strategically. One of the introverts’ best strengths is that they’re usually great listeners. Keep an open mind and positive attitude as you approach new people. Ask 1-2 open-ended questions to get the other person talking and to show your interest. When they’re done, paraphrase or offer a quick summary of their points with phrases like, “What I heard you say was….”
Take advantage of 1:1’s: Many naturally introverted people may not feel comfortable in large groups but thrive in a one-on-one environment. A 1:1 provides an opportunity to listen and ask questions. Remember to relax and take a deep breath when it’s your turn to speak. The other person accepted the meeting because they wanted to learn more about you, too!
Plan for recharge time afterward. Introverts recharge and recover alone. As you prep for a networking event that may push you outside your comfort zone, make sure you allow plenty of time to restore your energy afterward. The night before, it’s wise to forgo events that might drain your energy, e.g., hosting dinner or going out with friends. Instead, opt for an activity that will give you a boost. Try reading a book, taking a walk, or even getting to bed an hour or two earlier. And don’t forget to give yourself a buffer after the event, too!