So you’re an introverted language translator who doesn’t like networking. Did we hear you say that it’s self-serving, shameless, superficial and uncomfortable? If we heard you right, keep reading because Devora Zack, author of Networking for People Who Hate Networking, has a few insights that may reframe the way you see this activity.
5 Networking Tips for Introverted Translators
Stop trying to be someone you’re not
There are several reasons introverts avoid networking, but one of the least obvious is the fact that they are following a set of networking rules created by extroverts. The first step is accepting that you are introverted; the second is playing by your own rules. You don’t have to perform, act falsely, or as Zach would say, “contradict the introvert’s natural sensibilities.” We’ll explain more below.
Talk is cheap. Follow-through is priceless
Extroverts are gregarious, at ease in front of a crowd, and have a knack for wooing new acquaintances. Nothing wrong with that, but talk is cheap if there’s no follow-through. What really matters is what happens in the 48 hours that follow the networking event. Did you—whether through email or phone—make a thoughtful, articulate follow-up with that new contact? Do you remember what you talked about with this person? Do you have something you can offer him or her, or are you simply riding coattails?
Make the time you are networking count
Networking is about quality, not quantity. Instead of exhausting your energy trying to connect with everyone in the room, make a solid connection with five people. If you’re an introvert, you’ll like this next part: Instead of attending five conferences a year, put all of your energy into networking at one event.
Volunteer for a job
If you’re one of those introverts that thrives when there’s structure, make arrangements to help out at the event ahead of time. A job will give you the opportunity to work closely with others and provide you with a specific reason to interact.
The first date vs. the high school reunion
We like to think of networking as a first date, not a high school reunion. Feel free to disagree with us, but high school reunions are painfully superficial. There may be a few good conversations, but a good many of them center on who has aged well, who hasn’t, who has the best job, the happiest home, the most hair, the trimmest waist and so on.
First dates are fresh beginnings. You aren’t there to prove that you’re not the same guy who split his pants in gym class or fumbled the ball at the homecoming game in 1989. You’re both there to see what you have in common, what you want out of life, and whether or not the other person fits into those goals.
Networkers aren’t looking for life partners, but they should be evaluating professional chemistry. And when you look at it like that, networking gets a heck of a lot easier.