At first glance, it would seem that extroverts have the advantage when it comes to networking. Their natural ability to approach new people and form connections seems tailor-made for events like conferences and job fairs. But some of the very qualities that make extroverts who they are—gregariousness, a tendency to dominate conversations—can occasionally backfire. Read on for some tips on how to succeed at networking as an extrovert.
Think before you speak
Extroverts like to chat, but that can sometimes mean they open their mouths to speak without thinking first. It might take a bit of effort, but work on training yourself to take a deep breath and count slowly to three before speaking, especially when you’re feeling excited or nervous. Doing so will help you organize your thoughts so that you can better present yourself to potential contacts.
Along those same lines, extroverts sometimes tend to speak over others. This can be seen as pushy or even rude—not the impression you want to make at a networking event. Concentrate on being a superb listener and hearing out what the other person has to say before speaking yourself.
Instead of making the conversation all about you and your interests and accomplishments, make a point to ask questions. Mentally prepare a list of questions before the event so that you can have a few conversation starters at the forefront of your mind on the big day. Make sure these are general questions, not personal ones. Which leads us to…
Consider the audience
Bear in mind that anyone you connect with at a networking event might very well be an introvert who feels thoroughly befuddled by your extroverted ways. Err on the side of caution and avoid asking overly invasive or personal questions, which can make introverts uncomfortable. Be sure to leave plenty of space between you and your conversation partner as introverts tend to be overly aware of their personal space. And take advantage of your own chattiness if the conversation lags! If someone seems particularly shy or unwilling to talk to you, proffer one of your professionally printed business cards and move on.
Follow up with appointments
Introverts and extroverts alike appreciate those who respect their schedules, but introverts in particular tend to feel strongly about punctuality. Make follow-up appointments with anyone you connect with at your conference and make sure you stick to them. Arrive on time—or even early—to impress even the pickiest time stickler.
As an extrovert, your primary goal for a networking event should be to make the most of your naturally social nature while also reining it in a bit so as not to overwhelm others. Try to go slowly and not let your nerves get the best of you. Use your inherent friendliness to help you make connections that will help you further your career in both the short and long term.
If you’d like to find out more on networking tips for introverts, please see my previous article on the topic.