Most networking articles are either directed to introverts or to everyone. What about extroverts ? Authors generally assume that everyone is equal when it comes to interacting with people, or that introverts need extra help to get through it.
There's not much out there for extraverts and outgoing people don't get much advice or strategies for effective networking. To be fair, they usually don't need much help to strike up a conversation with a stranger. But still, here are five tips for outgoing people on how to channel all this energy into effective networking.
Too many people get excited when they arrive at a networking event and their excess of energy can be perceived as intitmidating for more introvert people. They tend to give their business card to everyone and will not see it as a success if they don't leave with at east 20 cards. Relax, take a deep breath and take your time. Choose quality over quantity. Slow down and allow time for relationships to develop.
2. More meetings, not more people
If you want to meet more people, then go to more meetings, don't try to cram more people into fewer meetings. If you regularly go to networking events, you will end up meeting the same people several times and that is where you can really start to build relationships. So if you want to meet more people, go to a couple more events each months.
3. Limit yourself to two people
If you really want to challenge yourself, limit yourself to only talking with two people at your next networking meeting. That doesn't mean only introducing yourself to two people — it's inevitable you're going to get introduced to a small handful of people while you're there.
But while introverts are often told to "try to meet two people," try to limit yourself to two people. These are people you talk with for several minutes, trying to get to know them better, and having a basic conversation about what it is that you both do.
These are the people to create deeper, more meaningful relationships with, which you can do over coffee or lunch in a period of months. But you're only going to find them if you spend several minutes with them at a networking event getting to know each other, rather than zipping around trying to meet everyone in the room.
4. Help others first
One of the founding principles of Business Networking International (BNI) is Giver's Gain. That means people who give are the ones who gain. In other words, if I focus my attention on helping other people first, rather than trying to find my own opportunities, I will gain much more in return.
As you help more people, you'll find more opportunities coming your way, whether it's someone you helped, or even someone who was helped by someone else who was helped by someone you helped the year before.
When you're at a networking meeting, ask people what they do, who they would like to meet, and if there's anything you can do for them. Introduce them to the people who fit that bill. Hopefully they're at the same event, but if they're not, make an email introduction on their behalf that day.
5. Leave early
People sometimes tend to stay until they are one of the last people remaining. It's a great way to meet interesting people and to meet the organizers. Plus, it is esaier to have a quiet conversation.
But on the other hand, you don't want to burn yourself out. It you go to several networking events every week, you will end up burning out.
If you leave early, first, you will save a few hours every week. Second, people will start realizing that your time is your commodity and not theirs, so it becomes more valuable to them.
Networking is not a numbers game or a competition. Don't race around and try to meet as many people as you can, be strategic and be selective. And above all, always come with an open mind and ready to help anyone you can.