For someone who talks for a living, I should thrive in a networking environment, right? Wrong. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I can hold my own, put on my best sales pitch and sell my wares like any good little networker should, but do I find it comfortable, empowering, motivating – No, I do not!
What is my stumbling block to networking?...
I've been to several networking events recently and while each target slightly different audiences, all have one thing in common; they all asked for a 40 – 60 second pitch about my company and what it has to offer. While this is a great way to know who’s in the room, it just feels like a surreal version of speed-dating where everyone wants to be picked.
I pride myself on being able to build rapport with people, read their intentions and offer insights accordingly. But, when a dozen people are all putting on their best; ‘trust me, buy me, love me’ face, it can be hard to see past this.
Does my personality play a part in how I perceive networking?
I'm intrigued by personality preferences and use several personality profiling tools in my work. These are mainly based on the theories of Carl Jung. Two of the sets of preference Jung explores are Introversion / Extroversion and Thinking / Feeling.
In very basic terms:
Introversion / Extroversion preference (Where do you get your energy from?)
My Dad is an extrovert! He loves talking to people, about anything, at any time. He has a natural gift for listening to a conversation and finding the smallest connection to something he knows about, usually the Navy or something the Daily Mail have written, and joining in the conversation. My Mum, is a confident introvert and can often be found cycling around country lanes deep in thought, often ending up at a coffee shop for a spot of people-watching. They are celebrating their 50th Wedding anniversary this year! Personally I sit in the middle depending upon situation. I am what google search would call an 'Ambivert.'
Thinking / Feeling preference (How do you make decisions?)
Is one type of preference better than another at networking?
The answer isn't in which preference is better or worse, but in understanding how your preferences filter the world around you and impacts on others. Added to this there are a variety of preference matches, not just the ones I've mentioned here!
Most networking events are geared up towards the Extroverted, but if you can get over the speed-dating element of these sessions, you’ll be rewarded with, hopefully, some quality 1:1 time.
Will I continue to attend networking events?
Yes. I've made some great contacts through these. But I can’t help FEELING there’s a niche in the networking market for meetings that focus more on the Introverted and Feeling preferences. Where sessions are focussed on people rather than product and on smaller personal sessions rather than 60 second presentations. It would probably be in a little coffee shop somewhere and I’d be happy to host it!
Learning doesn't just happen in a training session. It happens all around us! Follow my ramblings and continue to see the world in a different light!