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Introverts Make Better Networkers

Last night as part of the Biznik Innovators Series, I had the joy of watching Warren Etheredge interview John Hagel and John Seely Brown, co-authors of the amazing new book The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion. I’ll be doing a full write up of the book shortly but the short version is, if Drive, by Daniel Pink is the most important book you could read all year, The Power of Pull is the most important business book you could read all year. They are the perfect compliment to each other. Read Drive then The Power of Pull.

Introverted StormtrooperThe authors make the point in the book that the ability to build networks and create serendipity are key elements to creating Pull. In the most simplest terms, Pull is the ability to attract talent and resources to your cause. This goes for individuals, businesses and organizations.

One of the questions that came up was, how can an introvert succeed in a world that seems to favor extroverts?

I took the opportunity to chime in but I also wanted to take this opportunity to expand more on this idea.

Over the last 6 years or so that I’ve been trying to convert businesses to adopting social media I’ve noticed a trend:

Extroverts may adopt social media faster but introverts tend to be more successful.

By success I mean real success in business and life not the amount of followers you have.

If you know me this isn’t an easy thing to say because I’m an extrovert. But what I’ve noticed is that extroverts turn social networking into a popularity contest. We think success in networking means having the most connections. This approach can work but after a while this approach doesn’t scale anymore.

Take for example this mornings post by MS Siegler on TechCrunch where John Mayer has declared Twitter to be dead. The post points out that this is not the first time a celebrity has quit Twitter. John hasn’t quit Twitter yet but apparently he thinks about canceling his account every morning. Somehow I think we’ll see him active again when his next album comes out. His, and many other celebrities have brought up the amount of negativity and hatred they are subjected to on Twitter.

Even in our own tech corner of the world I’ve watched as some have either consciously or as a result of being really talented, risen to “A-list” status. The amount of resentment and fandom they have to put up with is often enough to make many of them quit. Or they they turn into micro celebrities and are either inaccessible (have you ever seen Robert Scoble at a conference, the guy is constantly swarmed by a dozen people, half with cameras) or are unbearable because their egos have taken over.

What makes introverts better?

Simply put they are more deliberate. Introverts are more likely to look for relationships that are mutually beneficial. They don’t want to waste their time or the other persons time.The relationships they do build are more sincere and more likely to result in something meaningful.

This doesn’t mean that all introverts are successful networkers. Extroverts usually do well by shear force of numbers. Introverts have to first get over fear, apathy and/or lack of confidence before they can begin to successfully put themselves out there and network.

John Hagel made the point that he is an introvert. The way he overcame this was through finding his passion (a major theme of the book) and that passion drove him to seek out and connect with other people who shared his passion. He started by writing which was an easier way to put himself out there. This is why social networking can be such a powerful tool. You can put yourself out there with minimal risk and exposure.

Photo credit by Balakov

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://www.ubervu.com/conversations/www.newcommbiz.com/introverts-make-better-networkers/ uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ScepticGeek: Introverts Make Better Networkers http://bit.ly/9F1dPW says @TacAnderson /thoughtful post, I tend to agree…

  • http://topsy.com/trackback?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2&url=http://www.newcommbiz.com/introverts-make-better-networkers/ Tweets that mention Introverts Make Better Networkers — Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tac Anderson, Todd R Jordan, Suzan Gray, Shefaly, Alana Karran and others. Alana Karran said: This is a really great article! Thanks for sharing. RT @Tojosan: Introverts Make Better Networkers http://bit.ly/di5hCy [...]

  • http://twitter.com/penelopeelse Penelope Else

    Nice article, thank you! One thing: not fear, not apathy, not lack of confidence. Just a slight desperation at the prospect of being talked AT for hours.

    If you want to make an introvert happy at a networking event, make it possible for them to find quickly the intellectual/experiential connections between people. They'll be chatting till 2 in the morning.

  • http://www.heidi-miller.com/ Heidi Miller


    Interesting! Your article didn't go where I thought it would-that introverts tend to spend more time listening, and so they derive greater value from connections and conversations than their more gregarious counterparts. But the deliberation aspect is spot on, too. If you investing in an interaction is more challenging for you, you're more likely to seek and find the deeper value that someone who is collecting bottle caps.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    You have to remember that this was an extroverts view of introverts and how they network so I'm sure there's lots I missed or over generalized :)

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Thanks Penelope. I think under the best circumstances you're right, and I've gotten a lot better with introverts. I don't bore them with much small talk or too many questions. But I've experienced a lot of fear, apathy and lack of confidence among both extroverts and introverts but much more so with introverts.

  • http://foleymo.com foleymo

    This is exactly what I've been experiencing ever since I started going to networking events!

  • judygombita

    Interesting. A twittermate and I were having an offline discussion a couple of weeks ago regarding how some folks are “over-syndicating” their content. You know, the same stuff appears on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook. Or in the person's blog, Google Buzz or a shared bookmark.

    I was starting to think (following a Criminal Minds show!) that the over-syndicated people are probably also narcissistic: the need to leave evidence of their social media “being” all over the place. But now I'm thinking it's more likely they are extroverts, thanks to your blog post.

    Even though you aren't a fan, I'm going to share this post on Google Buzz…..

  • researchgoddess

    I still cling to the notion that I am an introvert with extroverted tendencies :) This to me makes sense of the fact that there are lots of people in my industry (recruiting) who've proclaimed loudly…over and over and over.. and over again, that social media is a waste of time when it comes to recruiting. Recruiters are more commonly extroverted just due to the nature of their work. If they'd read this they might understand where they took a wrong turn in their assessment :) As always Tac, thanks for sharing freely!

  • http://ztoryteller.wordpress.com/ Owen Richard Kindig

    As always, Tac, I like the way you think and write. That introvert/extrovert line, though is a lot like football in that it's a game of inches. You strike me as more thoughtful than most, and showing a strong preference for substance over style. Not exactly stereotypical qualities of an extrovert. So I'll play my ENFP playful dude card and say the title of your article may fit my favorite teacher's favorite maxim: “All generalizations are false.” :-)

  • http://rlavigne42.wordpress.com Robert Lavigne

    Great Post Tac.

  • http://orgnet.com Valdis Krebs

    Yes, agree you don't have to be an extrovert to be well connected! A client of ours did a research study mapping a network, and Meyers-Briggs scores [MBTI] of those in the network. She expected extroverts to occupy the “prime locations” in the network. Nope! She found NO correlation between E or I and prime network spots!

  • http://www.movingfrommetowe.com Kare Anderson

    I am a fan of Pull and think Peter Sim's upcoming book, Little Bets, will be a great companion to it… and, with my interest in connective conversation and collaboration, I am delighted, via, John Hagel, to have discovered your idea-packed blog

  • http://crownrentcar.net sewa mobil

    This is exactly what I've been experiencing ever since I started going to networking events!

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