Networking Tips for Extroverts: Maximising Sociability in Professional Settings

networking tips for introverts strategies to connect with confidence (1)

Networking is an area where extroverts can shine. Their innate ability to connect with people through upbeat conversations and lively personalities gives them an extra advantage in social and professional settings. There is a danger though and it sits in failing to tie these bubbly encounters back to business. For extroverts, the purpose of networking extends beyond simple professional courtesy; it’s an opportunity to forge meaningful connections that can lead to collaborations, partnerships and a broader customer base.

While extroverts may feel comfortable in large groups or engaging strangers, the aim should be to create lasting relationships rather than simply collecting contacts.

Successful networking for extroverts involves more than just starting discussions or being the life of the party. It requires a strategic approach that balances natural sociability with a respect for business interactions. 

If you are an extrovert business owner then your networking objective is to ensure that your connections are thoughtful and focused on building partnerships that both parties will value.

While it might be easy to leverage your outgoing nature, remember to: 

  • Keep it professional
  • Be sincere 
  • Find a genuine interest in others
  • Consider mutual benefits

Mastering the Art of Conversation

If you think having great communication skills equals being talkative and gelling with people easily, think again. Effective networking isn’t about being the life of the party, it’s about making real connections, active listening and asking questions that get people thinking.

Listening Skills

A conversation is a two-way street, and for extroverts, the ability to listen can be twice as important as the capacity to share. Rather than lead every conversation, tune in to what the other person is saying, maintain eye contact, and hold back on interruptions. It shows you respect them, lets you get a real feel for where they’re coming from and allows the subjects you talk about to be bigger than your experience and what you know (which is a good thing!).

Asking the Right Questions

Open-ended questions are ones that start with How, When, What, Where and Who,  (Why is also one but it can sound too much like an accusation so use it sparingly). These questions cannot be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and are gold for digging up new information, keeping the conversation rolling and making sure the other person feels important. 

Open-ended questions encourage others to share more about themselves, which can help uncover shared interests and opportunities for collaboration.

Great conversations hinge on crafting meaningful dialogues where active listening and thought-provoking questions lead to genuine connections.

Showing Genuine Interest

When it comes to selecting who we trust and connect with, we tend to gravitate towards people who show a sincere interest in what we have to say.

As an extrovert, you have the advantage of being able to naturally engage with others, but you need to put in some extra work to ensure that you show genuine intrigue in what the other person has to say, including their experiences and opinions.

You want to avoid the trap of appearing to impatiently wait for your next chance to talk about yourself.

Developing Networking Strategies

The only efficient way to run a business is by using strategies. I learned this one the hard way so trust me that if you are just letting your business run and build on its own, when you hit a bump in the road, the whole structure is going to wobble – perhaps even collapse. A strategy, and the systems that run it, give you bulletproof protection against anything that might lay ahead, from employing staff who derail your efforts, to changes in government policies or even a nationwide recession, the solid systems you create will keep you powering through. The same goes for networking.

A successful networking strategy for an extrovert involves combining methods to maximise your natural communicative strengths, both online and off.

Leveraging Social Media

Look at building an online social media business presence that reflects your personality and professional interests. This one comes back to being sincere and creating connections through recognising similar values and styles. Focus on:

  • Joining industry groups: Engage in discussions and share insights that others in your industry can see and appreciate.
  • Sharing content: Posting articles, commenting on others’ posts and creating videos can showcase your expertise with a view of helping or supporting their cause.

In-Person Conferences and Events

Yes, you need to show active participation in conferences and at relevant events.

  • Register for events relevant to your industry to stay on top of any changes that affect your business sector.
  • Network purposefully: Create conversations with a diverse range of individuals can lead to valuable connections.
  • Create a CTA. It might be a coffee date, office meeting or business card swap but do make (and keep) a plan for future contact. 

The Role of Business Cards

I know it’s not the 1980s but business cards are still a significant tool in any extrovert’s networking arsenal. If you don’t like physical business cards, create a digital card and share that. Either way:

  • Have business cards on hand at all events to exchange contact details.
  • Follow up: After events, reach out to contacts collected to solidify relationships and open doors for future opportunities.

Building and Maintaining Relationships

Networking isn’t just about meeting people; it’s about building enduring professional relationships that provide shared value. With that in mind, your focus needs to be on consistent follow-ups, offering value, and maintaining connections over time.

Follow-Up Techniques

Here are some ways you can strategise your follow-up. You can come up with your own that better suits your personality but make sure you are consistent and follow through. If you are finding you aren’t getting results, change your strategy and keep practising and tweaking until you get the outcomes you want.

  • Send a personal email within 48 hours of the meeting. This could reference a topic discussed or offer to continue a conversation.
  • Schedule a reminder to check in periodically. Relationships thrive on attention, so reaching out every few months keeps the connection active.
  • Mix up your communication. Unless they specify otherwise, vary how you keep in touch with a mix of social touchpoints, personal emails, general business info sharing and face-to-face meet-ups.

Providing Value to Contacts

Your network will thrive when everyone in it benefits. Here are some ways to add value:

  • Share relevant information or resources that could be beneficial to your contacts, such as articles or event invitations.
  • Offer introductions to other professionals in your network, fostering an interconnected community.
  • Listen attentively without judgment. You might not have the answers but being a sounding board can be invaluable to someone working alone on their business (you probably don’t need a reminder on that one).

Nurturing Professional Connections

To maintain your business relationships, you’ll need to ensure regular engagement:

  • Face-to-face meetings are best for rapport.
  • Celebrate their achievements by engaging with them on their social posts.

Only through consistent touchpoints will you be able to effectively pave the way for strong, lasting business relationships.

Improving Non-Verbal Communication

There is a lot of emphasis on what we say, but actually, it’s the non-verbal cues that carry the most impact. Think about a situation where someone is nodding along to what you are saying but glancing at their watch every few moments. You don’t feel listened to. 

Actions do speak louder than words so our silent signals need to be mastered to affirm what we say and build trust with others.

Most of the time our non-verbal communication is on auto-pilot and it can undo any good work we rehearse and perfect in a speech. Becoming aware of it is step one:

Understanding Body Language

A closed stance (like folded arms or a closed fist) will limit conversation. Focus on open gestures, as these suggest approachability and interest:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Use facial expressions
  • Align your posture to the tone of the conversation

Go gently, overpowering gestures can be confusing or weird; subtlety can be more compelling.

The Importance of the Pause

A pause in conversations allows for valuable feedback. It shows respect for the other person’s opinions and will stop you from overcrowding the conversation. How to use pauses effectively:

  • After making a point, pause for feedback.
  • When listening, a pause reflects consideration of the other’s viewpoint.

Networking Etiquette and Best Practices

Making a good first impression is key, and being outgoing can give you an edge, but remember, it’s all about finding the right balance between your natural enthusiasm and following the unspoken rules of networking. 

The Unspoken Rules of Networking 

The unspoken rules of networking revolve around professionalism, respect, and genuine interaction. While these rules can vary depending on the context and culture, here are some universal guidelines that can help you make the most out of your networking opportunities:

#1 Listen More Than You Talk: People appreciate when you show genuine interest in what they have to say, rather than waiting for your turn to speak. It’s about building a connection, not just airing your own ideas.

#2 Be Authentic: Authenticity goes a long way. People can tell when you’re being genuine versus when you’re just trying to sell yourself or your ideas. Let your true personality and interests shine through.

#3 Offer Value: Think about how you can help others, not just what you can get out of the interaction. Whether it’s a piece of advice, a helpful connection, or simply a listening ear, offering value fosters stronger and more meaningful relationships.

#4 Follow Up: After meeting someone, a quick follow-up message can reinforce the connection and show that you valued the conversation. It’s a simple gesture that can lead to lasting professional relationships.

#5 Respect Boundaries: Pay attention to social cues and respect personal and professional boundaries. Not everyone is looking for the same level of connection, and pushing too hard can be off-putting.

#6 Be Mindful of Time: Both yours and others. Networking events can be whirlwinds of introductions and conversations. Be considerate and keep interactions concise, especially if someone seems like they’re trying to move on.

#7 Don’t Oversell: While it’s important to communicate your achievements and capabilities, there’s a fine line between sharing and boasting. Keep your pitch concise and focus more on how you can collaborate or assist others.

#8 Stay Positive: A positive attitude is contagious and can make conversations more enjoyable and memorable. Even if discussing challenges, try to frame things in a constructive light.

# 9 Networking is Everywhere: Remember that networking isn’t confined to formal events. Opportunities to connect can occur in everyday situations, so always be open and ready to introduce yourself.

#10 Maintain the Relationship: Networking isn’t just about making initial contact; it’s about maintaining the relationship over time. Check in occasionally, share relevant information, and be present without being overbearing.

Business Etiquette Tips

Master the art of introduction: A person’s ability to introduce themselves and others effectively contributes to the success of networking activities. A finely crafted introduction should include a firm handshake, eye contact, and a concise statement that includes your/their name and relevant professional details.

Always keep it professional: Avoid overly casual language, and ensure your attire is appropriate for the event.

Overcoming Common Challenges

Extroverts often feel energetic about networking, but everybody faces hurdles that can hamper success. Recognising obstacles is the number one way to avoid them.

Dealing with Anxiety

There is a common perception that extroverts are always confident, which obviously isn’t true. That expectation can mean it’s harder to cope when feelings of anxiety take hold. No, you are not supposed to have it together all the time, in fact, feeling jittery is a great clue that you are about to step out of your comfort zone, which to me says, you are on the right track for personal and business growth.

To manage anxiety:

  • Stay present: Anxiety is about stressing over what might happen in the future. No one knows what will happen next, your only job is to take care of what is happening now.
  • Prepare: Know the event’s theme and guest list. This can help you prepare some conversation starters.
  • Join a Mailing List: Subscribing to relevant mailing lists can give you a heads-up about upcoming events, giving you more preparation time.

Interacting with Introverts

Understanding different social preferences is important in helping extroverts interact with introverts. For better connections:

  • Break the ice: an introvert is less likely to approach and start a conversation. Be the one to break the ice and settle them in.
  • Approach Gently: A softer approach gives introverts space to share thoughts without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Listen Actively: Extroverts should listen attentively, showing genuine interest in what introverts have to say.

Remember, networking is about mutual assistance, and adapting your style can lead to more meaningful professional relationships. If you want help assessing your business and leadership style so you can work better with anyone you meet, book a free strategy session to fast-track your communication skills.

And for a little virtual networking, make sure you join our Facebook group to connect with other link-minded business owners. 

Networking Tips for Extroverts: Maximising Sociability in Professional Settings – FAQs

Is networking for extroverts?

Networking is not exclusively for extroverts. While extroverts may find it more natural to initiate conversations and engage with others in social settings, introverts can also excel at networking by leveraging their strengths, such as listening attentively and forming meaningful connections in smaller group settings. Networking is about building relationships, and people of all personality types can develop effective networking skills with practice and intention.

How do you network without being annoying?

Networking effectively involves striking a balance between being proactive and respectful of others’ time and boundaries. To avoid being perceived as annoying, focus on genuine connections rather than simply collecting business cards or pitching yourself relentlessly. Listen actively, ask thoughtful questions, and show genuine interest in others’ experiences and perspectives. Additionally, be mindful of nonverbal cues and give others space to contribute to the conversation. By approaching networking with authenticity and consideration, you can build lasting connections without coming across as intrusive.

How do you build a network when you don’t know anyone?

Building a network from scratch can seem daunting, but it’s entirely possible with the right approach. Start by attending networking events, industry conferences, or joining professional groups and associations related to your field. Introduce yourself confidently, express genuine interest in learning about others’ work, and be open to sharing your own experiences and expertise. Utilise online platforms such as LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your industry and engage in meaningful conversations. Remember that networking is about building relationships over time, so be patient and consistent in your efforts to expand your network.

Do you grow out of shyness?

Shyness is a common personality trait that can vary in intensity and may persist throughout life for some individuals. While some people may naturally become more outgoing and confident in social situations over time, others may continue to experience shyness to some degree. However, it’s important to recognize that shyness is not a barrier to successful networking or professional growth. By acknowledging and accepting your shyness, you can develop strategies to manage it effectively and still thrive in networking environments. Practice exposure therapy, challenge negative thoughts, and focus on building your confidence gradually through small, achievable steps.

How do you stop social shyness?

Overcoming social shyness is a gradual process that requires patience and persistence. Start by identifying the specific situations or triggers that cause anxiety and work on reframing your thoughts and beliefs about them. Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or visualisation to calm your nerves before social interactions. Set realistic goals for yourself, such as initiating one conversation at a networking event or speaking up in a meeting, and celebrate your successes no matter how small. Surround yourself with supportive friends or mentors who can offer encouragement and feedback. Remember that overcoming social shyness is a journey, and each step forward brings you closer to feeling more comfortable and confident in social settings.