Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The ABC's of Trade Shows and Conventions - I is for Introverts

In the world of "introverts" vs. "extroverts" most people think that success in attending business oriented events falls to those who with more outgoing personalities.

"I'm a people person" is the chant those who love the crowds.... and trade shows, conventions, seminars, conferences and other industry gatherings are full of people. The break out sessions, happy hours, dinners, and parties are all geared toward the mix and mingle folks. Alas, most people mistakenly believe those who self-identify as extroverts own the day (and the night) at these types of functions.

But introverts are better networkers.

What?!? Yep... it is true. I know first hand.... as I am an extrovert. But many of my friends self-identify as introverts and they are much better at networking.

The extrovert has to be careful. We can talk over people and dominate conversations. We get going, especially after a glass of wine, and we can talk until we are blue in the face. But that is not networking. Networking is NOT talking about yourself. Networking is NOT selling.

Talking does not do the trick in establishing connections. Listening is the key.

Networking is about establishing long-term mutually beneficial relationships with others. It is discovering an understanding of how to help each other find success. You cannot learn about the other person while you are talking.

Being a great networker is about listening to others and searching your mind for ways to connect the dots to lead them closer to their hopes and dreams. Of course you desire they will do the same for you... but it is not about keeping score. The best networkers (regardless of if they are introverts or extroverts) find their success in helping others succeed.

Introverts are better at listening, and thus when they are engaged in the real process of establishing a relationship, they will always find more success. You cannot really serve others unless you know what they need.

Too many networking experts teach people to memorize an "Elevator Pitch", but this effort trains people to be self-focused when they meet someone for the first time. While knowing how to clearly express information about yourself is important, it should not shadow your real interest in the other person. Instead of committing brain cells to information about yourself (you should already know this information), prioritize memorization on a list of open-ended questions that gets the other person to talk.

If you can remember five questions that gets them to describe themselves and their goals they will appreciate you more than if you launch into some pre-fabricated "pitch". After a few minutes most people will then turn it around and ask you similar questions.

Additionally, most introverts tell me once they know people (even just a little bit), it is easier to open up and share about themselves. Thus asking questions and listening will put you at ease for the rest of the conversation.

If you are an extrovert, moderating how much you talk vs. how much you listen is important. (those who know me, know I have to work at this.... and that is okay.... we all have stuff we work on to improve ourselves!). It can be hard, but you benefit more when you find the right balance.

If you are an introvert, seize the day and claim your rightful place at the top of the networking event!

Have A Great Day.


Thom Singer is known as "The Conference Catalyst". He works with meeting planners and conference organizers to set the tone for a meeting. His presentations educate, inspire and motivate attendees to engage deeper in the event and make meaningful connections. http://www.conferencecatalyst.com


Juanita said...

Go introverts!

I am one who falls into the introvert category and I find traditional networking functions awful - simply because I am the type of person who would like to meet one on one with people and really get to know them. This builds great relationships but I can only get to network with a smaller number of people - and there are so mant great people out there to meet!

Thanks for the great post Thom!

Brian Sparks said...

Great article, Thom (coupled with a terrific headline and a very marketable "hook"). Score one for the introverts! Maybe there's hope for me yet.

Chic Homeschool Mama said...

I love this post as I would definitely describe myself as an introvert. There is a lot to be learned when you sit & listen & watch from the outskirts. It's hard to have a complete view of any situation when you are in the middle of the scene. If you step back- you can see the whole picture & make decisions based on that.

Anonymous said...

Very encouraging words for the introvert. I guess it is a matter of understanding our strengths and utilizing them in the business scenario. We don't need to be the "life of the party" or the ''center of attention" in order to get what we need from the networking or business experience. We just need to know how to use the tools we already have. I found some other good tips for the introvert your readers also might benefit from at: