3 Ways Introverts Can Survive Networking Events


Courtney Babin
ACFE Communications Coordinator

In Carl Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types there are two attitudes that humans use to adapt to the world: extraversion and introversion. You’ve probably heard of these attitude-classifications and, if so, you know which side your nature “prefers” (as no one is purely extroverted or introverted). Recently I realized that I tend to veer towards introversion.

Unlike extroverts, who are outgoing and draw energy from other people, introverts tend to pull their energy from themselves. It’s easy for us to get lost in our own thoughts, and we overthink before we speak. Rather than accumulating many friends, we have a few close friends; rather than being socially daring, we tend to sit back and observe others in social settings.

As professionals, we know the importance of networking, especially at events like the upcoming 26th ACFE Annual Global Fraud Conference. Networking is all about getting to know people. Who you know could be the way you break your next case or get your next position. According to CareerKey, “65 to 80 percent of all jobs are found through networking.” For introverts, networking can be draining and even exhausting. Here are a few tips on how introverts can network successfully.

Tip #1: Engage and Listen
Introverts are natural listeners, and because of our habit to think before we speak, we are usually perfect one-on-one conversationalists. When faced with a networking opportunity, try to find an extrovert. I know, it sounds crazy, but it works! Extroverts love meeting new people; they will talk to you about their lives and try to include you in the conversation. As a journalism student I learned how to keep someone talking by asking the right questions. If you are able to ask a peer open-ended questions you will help stir the conversation and might learn an interesting story about their career that could eventually help you in yours.

Tip #2: Appreciate Introversion
Learn to appreciate the way that your mind works and how networking works for you. I am at my best with one-on-one conversations rather than in large groups. In large groups I tend to observe rather than speak, which brings me back to this point: introverts are planners in conversation. We mull things over before we speak. Look at this as a wonderful thing — no one wants to be the person who speaks before they think. Well-formed thoughts and ideas are more powerful, especially when networking about your profession.

Tip #3: Take Time for Yourself
Introverts draw energy from within themselves so we need time to re-energize mentally after interactions with peers, especially intense networking events. If you’re at an event and are scheduled to go to a networking happy hour, take time for yourself before you attend. If you find time here and there for yourself you will feel more relaxed and balanced. As an introvert I know that networking can drain you, mentally and physically. If you can take a few minutes after the training and get a coffee alone or take a walk outside, then take that time for yourself. Remember that when you are relaxed, you are at your best.

It all comes down to the fact that introverts and extroverts have different needs. As an introvert, your energy comes from within, and we need to make sure that while networking we are conscious about our personal needs. Everyone deals with networking differently; it demands interaction and is a skill that professionals need to develop to survive in a business setting.