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If you are an introvert, you aren’t the only lawyer who is. So is Susan Cain, a Wall Street lawyer and author of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” In her book and TED talk, she makes introversion look not only perfectly acceptable but appealing in some ways. This was good news to me because, although I may be a seemingly extroverted bestselling author, I’m also an introvert.
A common misconception, particularly among extroverts, is that all introverts are shy and anti-social. But “shyness” and “introversion” are two very different things. This passage from Kendra Cherry’s article, “What Is Introversion?,” resonates with me:
“Introverts tend to be more quiet, reserved, and introspective. Unlike extroverts who gain energy from social interaction, introverts have to expend energy in social situations. After attending a party or spending time in a large group of people, introverts often feel a need to ‘recharge’ by spending a period of time alone.”
She dispels the myth that introverts are anti-social, which I appreciate. The fact is, while we may be more quiet and reserved in unfamiliar group settings, we are often quite sociable and talkative around people we know.
So, perhaps the solution to effective holiday networking is to make an extra effort to get to know a few more colleagues and clients better before this year’s big holiday party, so we feel more at ease once we’re there. Here are four introvert-friendly ways to do it:
1. LinkedIn recommendations. As the largest business networking site in the world, LinkedIn acts as your online resume, where you can highlight your expertise. It is also the perfect vehicle to share genuine kudos for a job well done. By using LinkedIn to send a heartfelt “thank you,” you can break down that invisible barrier between you and a colleague or client prior to the holiday party. Doing so provides a pleasant, ice-breaking conversation ahead of time, making it easier to socialize in person at the actual event.
2. Volunteer for the Event Committee. Introverts tend to prefer quality over quantity in their interactions with others. What better way is there to create that sense of quality for yourself and others than to be a host of the holiday party? There is no need — or time — to come up with uncomfortable small talk when it’s your job to ensure others have found their tables or that they’ve bought their tickets for the gift basket drawing. Being a busy host not only minimizes opportunities for “awkward silences” that can occur when you’re seated next to people you don’t know, but also gives you a sense of purpose that will carry you through the event with more ease.
3. Take the focus off yourself. What if you do find yourself seated beside a stranger at the event? Here’s an effective technique I learned in one of many sales coaching sessions over the years: “Ask them about themselves. Then shut up and listen.” This is an effective sales tactic because it allows you to learn more about your client — what they like about their current provider, what they don’t like, their general needs and wants — which allows you to customize your pitch. But it also takes the pressure off of you. Just ask others (particularly extroverts) to tell you a bit more about themselves, and they will. They may even go on and on.
4. Accept yourself just as you are. In a world that sends the message that extraversion is somehow more acceptable than introversion — that constant socializing is healthier than quiet meditation — I challenge my introverted friends to stop. Stop doubting your natural tendencies. Stop questioning your own intuition and just be. Accept yourself just as you are, and know it’s OK to be an introvert.
Kim Staflund is the founder and publisher of Polished Publishing Group (PPG) and author of the newly released “Successful Selling Tips for Introverted Authors.” She is also author of “How to Publish a Bestselling Book … and Sell it Worldwide Based on Value, Not Price!” Her substantial sales history that includes new business development, account and personnel management and leadership experience. Follow her on Twitter @KimStaflund.
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