Back in 2009, Elisabeth and I were sitting around the kitchen table talking when I made a comment about being an extrovert. She looked over at me and said, “Uhh, honey, I hate to break it to you, but you’re an introvert”. I smiled and said, “Yeah, sure, I am an extrovert”. She then looked at me quite earnestly and said, “No, really you’re an introvert”. But, I am a public speaker and founder of the world’s largest networking organization.
I cannot be an introvert
Elisabeth insisted that I was an introvert. She proceeded to share with me all the ways that I have introverted tendencies. All the examples she gave were true, but I still couldn’t believe I am an introvert. On the other hand, we were married for over 20 years at that time. She knew me pretty well. Therefore, I found an online test to see where I was on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. The test said that I am an “introvert / situational extrovert”. I was something of a loner who was reserved around strangers but very outgoing in the right context.
This revelation gave me the insight to improve how we network at BNI
- As an introvert, I am naturally uncomfortable meeting new people when networking. However, BNI uses a structured meeting agenda that enables our members to meet new people comfortably either online or in-person. Therefore, I feel more comfortable when meeting new people at a BNI meeting.
- As an introvert, I am naturally uncomfortable introducing myself at networking events. However, I ask the local or national BNI Director to assign a liaison when I visit BNI events. This person walks with me at the event and introduces me to as many people as possible.
- As an introvert, I am naturally uncomfortable circulating the room at networking events. However, I realized that volunteering to be one of my BNI chapter’s visitor hosts allowed me to circulate more comfortably during the meeting. This led to the concept I used many times of “acting like the host, not the guest“. I recommend that article to all my fellow introverts out there who are also uncomfortable networking.
Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you can be good at networking. Both have strengths and weaknesses. If you can find ways to enhance your strengths and minimize your weaknesses, anyone can be a great networker.