Preface: this is not an article that asserts introverts use LinkedIn more than extraverts and vice versa. Nor do I assert introverts are more skilled on this platform.
Whether you’re networking via video platform or in person, at some point LinkedIn can play a huge role in your success. I’ve witnessed this with my clients who have forged relationships with other job seekers, mentors, coaches, people in their target companies, and hiring authorities.
As an introvert, LinkedIn has made networking easier for me. It has helped to form solid relationships, generate business for a side hustle, and been a means to share my expertise. I’ve accomplished this, in a large part, by expressing myself through writing, which comes natural to me.
Introverts prefer writing
LinkedIn is a networking platform that is written-based. Written communication can include sending messages to your connections; writing long posts, including polls; and commenting on what others post. Of course, LinkedIn members can express themselves through video and audio.
Written communication is of great comfort for introverts. My valued connection and extravert, Edythe Richards, is a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and EQ trainer, as well as a podcaster. She explains introverts’ preference for writing this way:
“Introverts may prefer writing to speaking because they have ample time to gather their thoughts and edit their words, check and cross-check, before putting them out there into the world. They can also work alone for several hours, which is often harder for extraverted types to do.”
Another authority on introverts, Jenn Granneman and author of Introvert Dear, describes introverts’ preference for writing:
“Even if you’re an introvert who doesn’t write for a living, you probably prefer texting and emailing over big in-person meetings or talking on the phone.
“How can this be? Again according to [Marti Olsen] Laney, writing and speaking use different pathways in the brain. These writing pathways simply seem to flow more fluently and easily for introverts.“
I’m not naive enough to claim introverts own the rights to the written word; that all introverts are great writers and all extraverts are lousy writers. Introverts are not the ruler of the writing hill. Extraverts can write with the best of them. However, introverts are more comfortable writing than speaking.
The voice message feature is pretty cool
I’ve used this feature on LinkedIn’s mobile app only a handful of times, but when I did I planned what I would say and re-recorded a message a few times. Here’s how my botched attempts might go, “Hi Brenda ‘comma’ this is Bob McIntosh ‘period‘ would you like to Zoom with me ‘question mark….'”
The point is voice messaging precludes the need for introverts think on their feet in face-to-face situations. We can do retakes. Small talk isn’t one of our strengths, as it takes thinking on our feet processing our thoughts quickly.
Marti Olsen Laney, The Introvert Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World, mentions in her book that introverts don’t process information as quickly as extraverts. I know, as an introvert, this is hard to stomach.
With writing and voice messaging, we have more time to think about what we need to convey, and this makes networking with our connections easier.
You can reach out to many people with LinkedIn
Are you a LinkedIn Open Networker (L.I.O.N)? If you are, you’ve probably reached your 30,000 connection limit. I don’t admire L.I.O.Ns for this feat, but I don’t dislike them because of it. My point is that you can reach out to and connect with more people than you’ll ever know.
I am not ashamed to say I have a little more than 4,000 connections and that I probably truly know only 150 people (according to Dunbar’s law of 150). I can safely say I am acquainted with 25 percent of them. I can write to a connection to ask if they’d like to start a conversation.
Rarely am I denied a request to engage in a conversation with my desired connections. I also don’t deny a conversation with someone as long as it fits in my schedule. My preferred way to talk is to do it when I’m walking. I call it “walking and talking.”
LinkedIn is great for soft introductions
Have you ever wanted to meet a person who could change your life, or at least help you in a significant way? If I want to meet anyone, my friend Brian Ahearn would gladly introduce me to whomever I’d like to meet.
Other than the fact that I root for the Patriots and he roots for the Steelers, we’ve grown a LinkedIn relationship of trust and liking (one of the six components he talks about when influencing others). This means that if I want to meet one of his connections he would facilitate the introduction, no questions asked.
The same trust and liking I have with Brian applies to more of my connections than I can list. Have I met these people in person? I’ve met Brian in Boston, but there aren’t many LinkedIn connections I can say with whom I’ve “pressed flesh.” This is the power of the soft introduction.
Key point: once you have been introduced to someone, it is on you to follow through to solidify the connection. You might be the one to send an invite to the person to whom you’re introduced or vice versa. In either case, don’t let this new connection sit; build a relationship as discussed next.
LinkedIn encourages relationship building
Reaching out to many people and getting to know them better through soft introductions is at the core of networking on LinkedIn. Did you know that LinkedIn was developed for business as a way for companies to network to develop leads? Job seekers saw LinkedIn as a way to network and develop leads.
This said, leads are leads until they amount to something. I mentioned above that I’ve developed some great relationships on LinkedIn. This wasn’t done overnight, especially with my preference for introversion. Introverts by and large seek deep, intimate relationships, where as extraverts have a friend in every port.
I would love to get together with many of my close connections; however, distance is a deterrent. For example, one of my connections lives in Los Angeles. Another one lives in Maine about a three-hour drive. And a close connection lives in Belgium. These are a few of the thousands of connections I’d like to reach out to. You get the idea; LinkedIn is a global relationship maker.
Kenneth Lang, another valued connection, adds:
“After connecting with someone, send a follow-up ‘Thanks for connecting,’ email with some CTA (call to action) – such as scheduling a virtual cup of coffee to learn more about what you each do and how you can support them.”
But we’re not done
I am constantly saying to my clients that to form a bona fide relationship with someone, you need to reach out in a personal way. Phone and Zoom are great ways to communicate, but there’s nothing like meeting someone for a coffee, a beer, or dinner. Networking is at its best when you gather in person.
Unfortunately the pandemic has put the kibosh on most in-person networking in the state in which I live. But pre-pandemic I enjoyed attending networking events to meet up with contacts or speak about LinkedIn to groups. It was great to see them in person and be able to shake their hand.
You’ve set yourself up for in-person meetings by writing to your connections, sharing content on LinkedIn, using LinkedIn’s voice message feature, and asking for soft introductions. These are all acts that introverts find comfortable with. Is LinkedIn the first step in the networking process? I think it is.
Back to Introverts and writing
It would be unkind of me to share what Edythe Richards shared in her message to me regarding the Introvert’s preference for writing:
“I’s may prefer writing to speaking because they have ample time to gather their thoughts and edit their words, check and cross-check, before putting them out there into the world. They can also work alone for several hours, which is often harder for Extraverted types to do.
“Some people – regardless of personality type – may prefer writing due to a real or perceived fear of judgment, social anxiety, or they’re just really good at writing.
“With this said, not all I’s may prefer writing to speaking, and not all E’s may prefer speaking to writing. There are nuances, shades, and blends of what we think of as a typical Extravert or Introvert. It could be situational as well – we may prefer writing to certain people and speaking to other people.
“Take me for example. I’m an Extravert, but I’ve spent years cultivating Introverted qualities. I prefer listening to other people’s stories rather than talking about my own. I cherish my few very close friends. And yes, there are many, many times that I prefer writing to speaking.
“My significant other identifies as a Very Clear Introvert. Though he will surely disagree with me, he is an eloquent speaker. And in true Introvert style, he usually chooses not to speak. But given the choice between speaking and writing, he will choose to speak.”
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