OMG I’ve got to do what?
Networking: the plot of every introverted business person’s horror movie, am I right? There is nothing like a room full of strangers who may or may not want to work with you that you HAVE to interact with to pursue your dreams. The nerves, the fear, the panic attacks, the butterflies, the inability to remember your own name.
Well, what if it didn’t have to be like this? What if we – the introverts of the world – could use our innate skills to network naturally and leave an event with a smile instead of a cringe? We can. Absolutely. The Introvert’s Edge to Networking has shown me how. In fact, I am starting to see my introversion as a strength where it has been historically perceived as a weakness.
Turns out, some of those natural abilities that help define me as an introvert are some of the best networking skills available. Matthew Pollard’s second book, The Introvert’s Edge to Networking not only showed me how to see this as reality, it also showed me how to use them to my advantage.
Throughout my life in assorted businesses, networking has always been my nemesis. I’m no good with too many people around, there’s too much information to gather. My brain always gathers data whether I ask it to or not. Who’s there, what’s going on, what’s on the buffet, the atmosphere, good discussions, bad discussions, secrets, people to seek out, people to avoid, and on and on – and the bigger the room, the harder my poor little brain works. So by the end of any event, I’m exhausted even if I just sit in a corner and don’t say a word.
Now I know that this can be mitigated, if not alleviated, by one simple trick Matthew discusses: being prepared. The depth to which he clarifies his methodology and how he got to it is wonderful and illuminating. A number of tips and tricks are elucidated for us to take, modify, or discard as appropriate. Now I can gather the data in advance, and only have to worry about being in the moment with people like I prefer.
Good thing, too, because now that I am all narration, all the time, networking is more relevant to my business. Potential corporate narration and eLearning clients are everywhere, as are authors looking to get into audiobooks. They all need a narrator, and if it’s not me, there’s a good chance I know another awesome narrator who would be ideal. Gaining new tools to truly become the Intent Facilitator that I have always innately been is, oddly enough, fun.
Introverted Networking 101
It’s not like he’s reinvented the wheel or achieved Networking Enlightenment (well, maybe he has, but that’s another story). Matthew has simply seen what is in front of us and packaged it in a lovely little present for us to open. He provides stories, suggestions, thoughts, inspiration, templates. There is woo-woo stuff and full-stop logical stuff. Bottom line, the way Matthew presents his information works for all sorts of people, probably even those weird extraverts.
Perhaps the biggest thing I have gotten out of Matthew’s books is comfort with my introversion. Today, I am not just OK with being a borderline hermit, I am beginning to embrace it and use it to my advantage. Especially in marketing and networking.
Even though they are about all I’ve ever known, ‘Spray & Pray’ and ‘If you Build it They will Come’ are not valid marketing strategies. Who’da thunk it?
So I’ve learned I have hitherto been what Matthew terms an ‘aimless networker’, which really explains a lot. I’m unwilling to be smarmy and transactional and unable to be a social butterfly. For an introvert, hustle like is so often the norm at networking events, like ‘regular’ people do and enjoy and rock at, this hustle equals burnout. And minimal results. So networking has often been seen as lose-lose and hence ignored, discounted, and done under duress.
He says to “focus on strategy and preparation, not trying to be charismatic and engaging.” This is helping me to break the belief that I have to be Brilliant and Wonderful at all times. It also is helping me to remember my roots as a researcher and that it is a Good Thing to know what I’m heading into. Be it an online workshop with acting coaches and directors, an in-person conference with the whole audiobook world, or a local Chamber of Commerce meeting. Between this quote and working to delineate my mission and define my passion, my confidence levels are skyrocketing. And not crashing back down like they usually do.
The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades
Now I am (almost) looking forward to networking. Part of it is because I freaking love, Love, LOVE research, but it is also because The Introvert’s Edge to Networking has given me the freedom and permission to be myself at all times. Yay! For so long, I have tried to mold myself to match what all of my clients, regardless of the industry, want. The goal now is to match my narration clients to what I want, to who I am. I don’t have to be someone else’s idea of good. The Real Me is perfect for plenty of people.
The Bottom Line
Matthew GETS introverts because he is one of us. His success, and the success of innumerable other introverts throughout the world and history, proves we can all get where we want to go. We just have to play to our strengths and not try to force our square selves into round holes. Until this whole global pandemic thing subsides, I’ll have to wait to test my new found theories in full force, but even the tiny forays have shown me that Matthew knows what he’s talking about.
If you, like me, are an introvert who has always struggled with networking but has to do it to live your best life, this book is worth acquiring. I am sooooooooooooooo grateful to have received an ARC – advanced review copy, that is – of The Introvert’s Edge to Networking and be a part of the launch. (Every word of this review is my own and voluntary.) Thanks, Matthew.