Why extraverts struggle with networking

After leading a webinar on Introverts’ successes and struggles in the job search, I received an email from one of the attendees. He is a self-professed Extravert, which made his message more interesting.

8621406461_b4b89046d1_o (1)

One of the topics I address in the webinar is networking, which Introverts find challenging; maybe more challenging then Extraverts. This gentleman stated that he finds networking challenging, but for a different reason. His email follows.


“Thanks Bob, but I am an Extrovert. Why are there no webinars for Extroverts? Are we by nature considered better, complete networkers, or are Introverts so needy that they are the only ones who need help?

Frankly, networking is difficult for everyone and even Extroverts (Extraverts) could use advice regarding restraint, listening and coming across as more gentle and not overwhelming people. I have had to learn that, but a webinar on it would be cool and different. Just an idea as there are lots of classes for introverts.”


To help my attendee answer his question, I elicited the advice from my colleague, Edythe Richards who is an MBTI Master Practitioner.

Your client is partially right. “Networking [may be] difficult for everyone.” There is an assumption that because a person prefers Extraversion, they are outgoing, love talking to new people, and love interacting in the world.

There is also an assumption that Introverted types are shy or socially awkward and therefore don’t want to network. Either, or both of these may or may not be true for reasons that have nothing to do with what the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator measures.

Let’s be clear about what Extraversion and Introversion really mean. Extraversion means being energized by the external world, receiving energy from interacting with people and taking action, speaking freely and vocally, and getting restless without involvement with people or activities.

Introversion means being energized inwardly, participating in selected activities, enjoying private spaces, proceeding cautiously, and getting agitated without enough time alone or undisturbed.

All of us use both in our daily lives. And there’s one that comes much more easily and readily to us than the other.

There are many cases where people use their non-preferences effectively, and I venture to say networking and communicating with agility is a skill everyone must develop in order to be professionally successful.

Some networking areas where Extraverted types can benefit from Introverted types:

Active listening. Extraverted types may favor a “speak-think-speak” approach, whereas Introverted types may favor a “think-speak-think” approach. As a result, Extraverts (Es) may unknowingly end up talking over the Introverts (Is).

Es need to tune in to what the other person is saying, and resist the urge to relate the Is experience to their own. Practice being with them in the moment.

Deep connections. Es may favor quantity over quality. Is are selective about the people they allow into their circle of trust. At networking events, one quality connection often ends up being more beneficial than 20 superficial ones. Is who practice quality over quantity report increased trust and loyalty in relationships.

Gauge the pulse of the room. Because Is are often reflective and contained, they may be able to pick up on nonverbal cues Es miss. While the Es are chatting, Is are thinking or planning the things they’ll say at just the right time. Es who are able to slow down and analyze the situation before acting, won’t say something they’ll later regret, and the Is they’re talking with will feel respected.

A couple reminders for Extraverts about Introverts:

  • Just because Is aren’t talking doesn’t mean they aren’t having fun. Is preference is to think before speaking. When they want to speak, they will.
  • Is need their alone time, and this has nothing to do with Es. As much as Is may like going out (in small doses), they need quiet time to recharge in order to feel like themselves.
  • Be patient. There’s no need to pressure an I to speak. Take a few pauses, dial back the enthusiasm factor, and they will naturally open up and feel good about doing so.

I hope this helps!

-Edythe


It is self-evident that Extraverts can find networking challenging. It’s also true that Extraverts and Introverts have their own style of networking.

My webinar attendee makes a great point, however; why aren’t there more webinars–and for that matter, books, articles, workshops, etc.–addressing the struggles Extraverts have with networking?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s