Networking When You’re Intimidated

By: Marti Benjamin, MBA

Champion for a Great Work-Life!

I have introvert tendencies. I build my energy when I spend time alone and I expend it when I’m with other people. It’s not that I dislike people or time spent in business networking; it’s just that it takes more of my energy reserve to be in groups than it does for those with extroverted tendencies.

Career management requires having a network of mutually beneficial business relationships, giving and receiving assistance, information and support for growth. For those of us who tend toward introversion, networking in business settings can be intimidating.  Here are some insights I’ve gained and practices I’ve adopted over the past few years that allow me to build business relationships:

  • Communication skills are learned, not inherited. I can learn what I need to know to network effectively, and practice those skills to become more competent.
  • When I feel competent, I gain confidence. When I feel confident, I’m more effective at engaging in conversation with the people I want to know.
  • My authentic personality allows me to network effectively; I don’t have to intimidate extroverts. One of my talents is curiosity and in networking, I ask questions that allow others to talk about themselves, their business and their challenges.
  • I step into the role of host and take on the job of making others everyone comfortable. When I assume that role, I shift the focus from myself to others. I can approach people who are standing alone and bring them into a conversation so they feel more comfortable.
  • I decline to discuss subjects that might create disagreement, like politics, religion, sex, money, sexual orientation, etc. I can build business relationships with people who might never become my close friends. I’m interested in finding areas of agreement and mutual benefit, not advocating my own beliefs.
  • I plan my schedule to have time alone building my energy reserve before I expend it. I think of it as filling my fuel tank before taking a trip.
  • I choose the networking groups that will hold my interest and put me in contact with the people I want to meet. I actively choose not to attend all events that might fit my objectives.
  • Sometimes I feel fear and do it anyway! Anxiety and discomfort decrease and confidence and comfort increase each time I overrule the voice in my head that tells me it’s not my style to network. That’s an old message that doesn’t serve my career management goals.

I describe myself today as an introvert who’s learned to thrive in an extroverted world. It still decreases my energy level to attend an event with hundreds of people, but now I know that I can manage my calendar to participate in business networking events and enjoy it.

Marti Benjamin inspires great work-lives in her business and career coaching practice. In this, her third career devoted to the service to others, she applies the discipline of business while executing the mission of service. Since founding Business Energetix in 2004, Marti’s proprietary coaching systems have led fed-up professionals from frustration to a richly rewarding work-life.


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