I’m an introvert. Having just been awarded an ICMA-RC scholarship to the upcoming ICMA conference through MMANC’s Credentialed Government Leader program, I am both thrilled and terrified. In September, I’ll be headed to Seattle for five days of workshops and networking. Networking – yikes.
Now, I know I’m not alone. According to Susan Cain in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, one third to one half of us are introverts. Because I’m not alone, I want to share what I’ve learned about networking for introverts.
1. Get yourself into the room. Anticipation is always the worst part. Chances are good it won’t be as bad as you’re thinking beforehand.
2. Set a goal. Set yourself an attainable goal of a certain number of minutes or a certain number of connections made. Even better, promise someone else at the conference so you will be accountable. If you’re still enjoying it after achieving your goal, keep going. Also, planning to be there for the whole networking happy hour can be overwhelming, so it’s ok to plan to be there for part of it instead.
3. Find a focus. A shared activity is great. Someone wise recommended being part of the planning committee as a good starting point for conversation. I’ve tried it. It is.
4. Give yourself a break. Reward yourself for the hard work you just did. Do things that help you recharge, whether it’s junk tv, reading, or walking. I don’t attend all parts of the conference anymore after reading Quiet. Think quality, not quantity.
5. Remind yourself it’s worth it. I’ve found two great jobs through networking at MMANC events specifically. There are also great role models out there such as Jennifer Phillips, the City Manager of Saint Helena, and Kim Walesh, Deputy City Manager for the City of San Jose. The success of role models like them is a big motivator.
Here are some further resources I recommend:
● Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Accompanied by a great website at quietrev.com
● Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Nell Scovell and Sheryl Sandberg
● Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion by Susan and Peter Glaser
Lastly, if you see me at ICMA in Seattle or MMANC in Sacramento, come say hello.