By Nadia Diraä and Flurin Capaul
Chance leads to interesting encounters and discussions. On an internal forum in the ImpactHub a job advert was launched looking for someone “extroverted” to build and develop a network/community. The post led to some discussion revolving around whether someone needed to be introverted or extroverted to build and maintain a network. Out of this discussion between Nadia and myself, we’ve decided to share our views in two short blog posts.
Why introverted people are are great at building and maintaining networks
In business, creating relationships are critical and a source of opportunity, personal growth and even lifelong friendships. If you don’t network, you find yourself in situations (particularly as an entrepreneur or business owner) where you need someone with a certain skill set and you don’t even know where to start looking. Building a network takes time and patience especially if you want it well-configured. A healthy networking philosophy is a commitment to give without expecting anything in return. So when you reach out and offer help to others, or when asked for help you offer it without even thinking twice about saying “yes”, you’re creating energy that will naturally, and ultimately, flow back to you.
So why are then introverted people great at building and maintaining networks? First of all, they are good listeners. They have this rare talent of being quiet when the world around them is crazy. When they meet new people, they are attentive and allow them to speak so they can enjoy the feeling of being really listened to. By being quiet and listening they are also picking up all the other non-verbal clues and information. So whilst listening they are learning a lot about the people they get to know and their needs.
Another talent introverted people have is they excel at focus oriented conversation: serious, purpose-driven, often one-on-one or in small groups. This is how they win people over: they advise and teach. Because by asking questions, you get the other involved and you approach a decision together. The result is qualitative communication which leads to superior decision making and actions taken. This stands in opposition to the extroverted approach: persuade and dominate.
Last but not least, introverted people are excellent speakers. This seems counter-intuitive but when you have the stage, you are in charge of the situation. And most of all, everybody knows you already and it becomes easier to get in real conversations afterwards. So though introverted people are more likely struggling with public speaking than extroverted, preparation is their secret to success.
Nadia Diraä has a heart for diversity, in life and work. She worked a lot for non profit organizations with a focus on diversity and managed projects to empower immigrant women, to bring more women into IT or supporting students with disabilities by enhancing accessibility of online content.
Why extroverted people are are great at building and maintaining networks
Building a network (or curating a community if you’re into fancy words) is first of all a numbers game. If you’re starting from scratch you need to meet lots of people to spread the word. Unless you’re founding a secret society you need to generate noise and buzz, otherwise no one will know what you’re up to.
And that means first and foremost one single thing – you have to be relentless IN and open TO meeting complete strangers. Every encounter is a chance to introduce yourself and your agenda. Normal human politeness should be observed, but no one will turn you down if you smile at them and introduce yourself. Just like in Sales you have to fill the pipeline, otherwise you’ll never make the conversions needed.
So what does that have to do with being extroverted ? It’s hard work and takes energy. If extroverts are “…enthusiastic, talkative, assertive and gregarious …“ and “… are energized and thrive off being around other people”, that’s exactly what it needs to get the job done (quote from Wikipedia). If you’re shy and reclusive, can’t muster the energy to keep on meeting people after you’ve already spoken to lots of others, you’re not going to get the numbers you need to build up a network.
Besides the energy to talk to lots of people, another key skill is opening up a conversation and being able to include people into the discussion. Often you’ll find yourself in a situation where people are alone or not speaking to each other and you’re the catalyst to spark a conversation. And that’s where the best skill of an extroverted person comes into play – you’re not going to overthink it, you’re going to do it. Without that key skill the conversation won’t get off the ground and people will part ways unintroduced. While this doesn’t guarantee that the person will end up in your network, not talking to them will guarantee that they don’t end up in your network.
Flurin Capaul decided to found Boonea AG and turn an idea into action. Flurin is a Swiss national with 15 years of experience in IT and Finance, having worked in Singapore, New York and Zurich. He holds a BSc in Computer Sciences. In his spare time enjoys dining out, football, Jazz, history books, tv series and museums. He’s a retired sergeant of the Cryptology Unit of the Swiss Armed Forces.