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Networking As An Introvert

Woman leaning back in her chair, while sitting at her desk

Wallflower, timid, quiet, reserved—some of the words used to describe introverts like me. Introverts are not necessarily shy, we’re just selectively social. Small talk, back-to-back meetings, and crowds can deplete our energy quicker than physical exercise. When it comes to networking, we may feel like we’re working against our own nature.

For me, this looks like pulling a “French exit” at a party and keeping my circle small. While I have more control over my personal bubble, it’s important for my professional development to continue to grow my network.

I’ve learned to be judicious with my energy whenever possible. I’m not a social butterfly like my extroverted colleagues and friends, but I’m okay with that. Rather than forcing myself into a mold I don’t fit, I focus on thoughtful, strategic interactions.

I’m more likely to sleep through an afterparty than attend one. So, when I’m at either a large conference or meeting, I go in with a goal to interact with a minimum number of attendees. Whether these are people I know or they’re total strangers—walking in with a purposeful mindset pushes me outside my comfort zone—and I leave with stronger relationships.

This method works well in a remote atmosphere too. It’s easy to reach out via email and request an informal chat. Even outside the workplace—leveraging LinkedIn, social media, or the “Contact Us” section of a website can be networking tactics, especially for introverts. The fear of in-person rejection by a stranger is eliminated; plus, the worst that can happen is the message goes unanswered.

The pressure to network isn’t always on us—sometimes an opportunity presents itself. Recently, I was invited to sit in on another team’s weekly meeting and happily accepted. When the time came to join, any anxiety I felt was immediately eased by friendly, welcoming faces. We took turns sharing about ourselves and our roles, then each team member gave an update about their work. The conversation was interesting, fun, and completely organic. We’re now meeting once per quarter to stay connected.

Ongoing practice and exposure to networking is crucial for me as an introvert. For professional and personal growth, it’s important to take risks and be vulnerable. When I feel like crawling back into my shell, I remind myself that if I don’t ask, I won’t get. Even if I need to leave an event early or take a moment to myself, it’s important to be seen.

Written by Shawn Kramer

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