My pal, Jeff, is so well connected. He runs a successful company, is constantly getting together with people for golf outings, drinks, concerts, meals, you name it. He and his family love to travel and get together with other people – locally and while away. I think of him as a well-respected professional and an accomplished, master networker who has built a meaningful, authentic relationship base.
Given that as the backdrop, you may be as surprised as I was to learn that Jeff describes himself as an “extroverted introvert.” He says that he absolutely understands the value in relationship building and professional networking – he says that it has been the key to his success. However, at any given time, he’d much rather be taking a walk by himself, headphones on, listening to an old album, and jamming out to one of his favorite bands. From time to time, that is exactly what he does… to get away, process the day’s events, reset, and get ready for whatever is next. However, on most days, he does the following instead:
- Phone a Friend. During those walks, rather than spending the bulk of the time alone with his thoughts, he forces himself to reconnect with someone. He’ll do that by either scheduling a call or phoning someone out of the blue – just to get caught up, see what is going on in their life, and/or find out how he might be of assistance to them. He says that it has helped to stay connected to people or to reconnect with folks with whom too much time has passed without correspondence. He appreciates the conversations – his contacts do, too.
- Go Golfing. As mentioned, Jeff loves to golf. It’s a fun pastime and he says it’s also a great way to interact socially with others. While he has some regular golfing buddies with whom he plays frequently, he also goes to great lengths to invite clients, prospects, and general contacts to join him on the links. For you, it may not be golf – there are plenty of other fun, social opportunities to engage with others. Consider attending a professional sporting event, signing up for coffee or wine tasting experiences, playing pickleball, taking a cooking class, going on a walk around the lake, grabbing a mani-pedi, or another activity that you enjoy… chances are, you have contacts who would enjoy joining you for the fun.
- Buddy Up. Unsure about attending an event on your own? Ask a trusted colleague or a young professional who you are mentoring to join you. Sometimes comfort can be found through familiarity. By bringing someone along, you are giving that person the gift of a networking interaction and allaying your own discomfort related to social engagements.
Whether you deem yourself an extrovert, an introvert, or an extroverted introvert, recognize the power of networking. Hold yourself accountable for engaging with others. Then, reward yourself for fostering connections by putting on your headphones, going for a walk, listening to an old album, and jamming out to your favorite band.