How to have empowered networking conversations as an introvert

Photo on

In my Meetup group Melbourne Introverts in Business, I facilitate what I call “Practise Your Pitch” sessions, where members can get comfortable articulating what their business is about, to someone they don’t know.

The benefits of these sessions are three-fold:

  1. It gives introverts an opportunity to practise in a safe and friendly environment, in a smaller group (compared to a typical networking situation) with people of a similar temperament. This reduces the pressure and feeling of overwhelm, and frees them to be at their social best.
  2. As they try on different ways of describing what they do and who they serve, members receive constructive feedback on their pitch, which can provide valuable insights into how others actually perceive them (as opposed to how they think they are presenting themselves). They can then use this feedback as a springboard to further refine their pitch.
  3. They get to hone their communication skills in real time as they take turns to speak and to listen. Speaking and listening effectively – including knowing when and how to enter and exit conversations – are essential skills that enable members to make the most of networking events that they attend.

Introverts tend to be strong listeners. When combined with a people-pleasing temperament and a compassionate nature, this can lead to them doing all the listening and never getting an opportunity to speak about their business. They may then leave the interaction feeling deflated and unheard, which can affect their self-esteem and their opinion of the usefulness of networking.

To ensure a balanced exchange of value and energy, introverts need to have healthy boundaries. This means learning to be assertive – to champion their own professional interests with integrity, in the spirit of offering something of value to the other person.

This may feel like an impossible task for the introvert, who after all prefers harmony and wants to get along with everyone. But with self-awareness and support in creating new habits that activate their inner Warrior, they can over time become masters at speaking up for themselves and for the good of others.

That’s the kind of win-win outcome introverts love.

Check out upcoming Meetup events by Melbourne Introverts in Business.