Are the best networkers extroverts?

Heather Townsend
Director
The Excedia Group
Columnist
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As I slumped in my chair, exhausted after another evening of ‘working the room’, I was pondering whether I am an extrovert or an introvert – and whether this had any relationship to my ability to be a good networker. Particularly as most accountants (but not all it has to be said) are introverts – does this mean that accountants are lousy networkers?

The thing is (and this annoys me) there is an industry pandering to the perception that introverts are shy, unconnected and get overwhelmed by meeting lots of people – and so need help to network. The industry also has the solution – lots of books, articles and products to help introverts feel happier about networking and ‘working the room’.

I have a number of problems with this perception. Firstly whether you are an introvert or an extrovert has NO bearing on whether you make a great networker. Yes, no bearing. Whether your natural preference – as defined by Jung - is for introversion or extroversion, this has no correlation with your ability to build and maintain relationships. While an introvert has a preference for a small circle of very close and deep friends, and extrovert has a preference for a larger circle of friends but less deep friendships. If the key to being a great networker is to have strong relationships with the people who can help your business or career, then I want to both an extrovert and an introvert.

Jung’s definition of extroversion is where people are energised by the company of other people. Introversion is the opposite – where people are energised by their own company. Jung did not say that introverts or extroverts have more or less social confidence, or that either is any better at growing mutually beneficial relationships. So why do people assume that extroverts will happily work a room and introverts hate working a room?

The other reason I get annoyed by this perception that introverts need help to work the room, is the assumption that to network you need to work the room. Not so. I am considered by many people to be a true connector (as defined by Gladwell in ‘the tipping point’) and someone with an amazing little black book of contacts.  100% of my new business comes to me from existing clients and my network, particularly a few key relationships. However, I very rarely work the room – and when I do, I find it very exhausting. I normally need an hour or so to myself to recharge after a few hours of ‘working the room’ with many people I don’t know. I now tend to use online tools and personal recommendations to find the right people for my business, rather than the random nature of working the room at a conference or mix and mingle type event. When I have identified a key relationship, I will then progress the relationship via 1-2-1 meetings.

What do you think, are extroverts better networkers than introverts?

 

 

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28th Jul 2011 16:58

Are the best networkers extroverts

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I really couldn't let this and some other blogs go without commenting.

There is a pernicious movement in the business world in the direction of 'networking' and 'social media marketing' which really does let businesses down badly with advice built on poor assumptions and constructs - that are much more in the in the interests of the 'guru's' than your business.

I notice in previous blogs - particularly what not to do on Linkedin - that there is an underlying presumption that you can't possibly appear as a salesperson - because that would be suspicious and dishonest. Well if you are not selling something what on earth are you doing? Exchanging pleasantries and chitter chatter with people you don't know - online and in stuffy events - because you just like to? To give something back to the community? Because you like sharing? What a pile of nonsense. Is this not significantly more underhand than telling people what you offer and asking if they want to buy it?

Frankly - I will be glad when all of this flim flam finally plays itself out - which it most certainly will - and proves to be out to be a waste of energy and time. The guru's are filling their boots at your expense and networking and social media marketing are not substitutes for selling. Mark my words - once people have had their fill of canapés and have worker their fingers to the bone on 'DigIt' - without closing a single deal - the 'guru's' will start to tell you that it doesn't really work like that - there's some other magical flim flam that might though. It's already started.

If you want my advice - lift the phone. Call a customer and make an appointment to go see them. It's more efficient and you don't have to skulk around networking events or SM sites for months trying to 'build relationships'.

- Joe

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By plummy1
10th Aug 2011 20:43

Are the best net-workers extroverts

 

Let me first say I have read Heather Townsend's book and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their business networking both on and off line.

Firstly let me say I don't think there is any right or wrong approach to creating business relationships and I am sure that Joe's approach above works for him.

However I am in a partnership with a very extroverted salesman whilst I am an introverted procurement professional. Our business has been helped tremendously by the use of on-line and of line networking. I am happier starting to form business relationships on-line and working towards a meeting while my business partner likes nothing more than meeting a large room of complete strangers and visibly comes alive when he does.

The only thing I would say to Joe is try and cold call some professional services companies such as accountants and solicitors and try and get a meeting with them but you may be surprised by your lack of success. I'm sure cold calling does work in some cases but it is not for everybody and does not work within every industry,

John

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