Our guest this week on TEAM Talk Radio is Monica Marie Henderson.
Terilee: Today we’re going to talk about networking for introverts. I believe there are extroverts out there, introverts, and all kinds of people in between. Monica, please share a little bit about why this topic is important to you.
Monica: Growing up until the time I was 12, I was actually an extreme introvert. I had social anxiety, and it literally felt like I was going to die every time I had to talk to someone outside of my family. It feels a lot like stage fright, but it’s all the time talking to people that I wasn’t prepared to talk to. This particular topic hits very close to home for me because I felt it so strongly. Now I’m not that extreme. Today, I fall somewhere in the middle.
Terilee: I think that we can all find tools to help ourselves, and hopefully this interview may be of help to someone who knows they want to go network but is struggling to go out. Thanks for being willing to share today! So, you mentioned that it kind of feels like stage fright. Is there any other way that you think that networking feels to introverts?
Monica: Exhausting. When you think about having to talk to a bunch of people in a row and having to engage and put yourself out there, there’s like a mental fatigue that happens before you even jump into the room. It’s almost like you have to psych yourself up to go there. I do it all the time.
Terilee: There certainly is a spectrum! you’ve moved along in your experience and how you work with it and you network a lot now! When you’re going out to network these days — What is a foundational strategy that introverts can do to prepare them for networking that’s going to set them up for success?
Monica: When I go networking, this is how I set myself up for success. I network now approximately seven events a week. I actually put on a uniform or a costume. One of the tools that I found when I was younger that helped me was if I dress the part, then I feel like I have armor on to go out and be someone else for a second by putting on that costume. And so, I try to dress appropriately. I make sure that I have all of my marketing tools together. I talk to myself in the mirror, reminding myself the reason why I’m going out to network and what my intentions are. I set myself up for success before I even leave the house.
In the car, I remind myself: Who am I looking for? What the point of this is. I’m not leaving my house, my cozy, comfortable home for no reason. This is for a purpose. And I always tell myself that none of my clients are going to find me on the couch! I have to go find them. And just giving myself those reminders when I’m going out allows me to get into the game mindset. I’m going out for a purpose today!
Terilee: When introverts have gotten up the courage to get out there and are at an event and they find themselves thinking, “Ooh, I don’t know about this!” What can they do? Please give some tips how can they help manage that best.
Monica: Believe it or not, there are quite a few introverts! You’ll usually find them as wallflowers along the outskirts of the event. What I have found is extroverts will congregate in the middle of the room and just go in and dive into the larger group. The introverts will tend to wait on the outside of the networking pool. Find another person who is holding up a wall and start a conversation with them and recruit them to actually network with you, and you’ll build yourself in a wing man in the process.
Terilee: What are some strategies that you have to help recover after an event?
Monica: Stagger your schedule. When I network, I try to get people’s phone numbers in my phone. As I’m leaving the event, I’ll text message, “Hey, let’s connect another day.” Then that way I can have a little bit of a buffer until I have to go out and network again. I send them my calendar link to set up a conversation down the road, so I have a little bit of time to recoup my energy. I think a lot of times people think of introverts as shy people and that’s not necessarily the definition. An introvert requires the recharging to happen alone versus an extrovert needs people to recharge. What’s necessary for recovery is just allowing yourself some quiet time or some space where no words are coming at you.
Terilee: I find it’s interesting that here we are—you and I are not extroverts. We are both people who are leaders in the networking industry and who host events. As an introvert, maybe you haven’t considered it but, when you are the host, you’re seen as the expert. People come to you. You don’t have to walk into an event as an unknown person. People view you as credible and as a host. I get to, if you will, be the queen of the day. I have people who help me with check in. Other people are helping me to greet people and I’m putting out less energy of my own. Other people may help me do door prize drawings, etc. What Monica says is true, when I come home, I don’t want to talk to anyone. Do you find that being a host is helpful to you as an introvert?
Monica: Being the host actually allows me to set my own terms. I think that is helpful because while I know I need to have down time and I need to do this, I don’t have to linger with that one person or the other, because there is a bit of fear of having someone monopolize your time.
Being a host, you’re allowed to kind of pop in and out without being held down talking to one person. While hosting is definitely easier, it is just as exhausting in the recovery time the next day.
Terilee: I think one of the biggest things for an introvert is the knowing that you need that time. And just knowing that’s part of who you are and it’s okay. You can be a speaker, you can be someone who’s a leader out in the community, and you can be an effective networker. But just understand you need more quiet time after or how you recover from these activities.
Monica: Yes! Being an area director for TEAM Referral Network, I oversee 19 TEAM chapters. So that’s 19 meetings that I see over a 3 month period of time–not to mention other networking. I scheduled myself for three weeks on with one week off to allow myself a large amount of space to be able to recover so that I can be on point for the next program or the next day.
Terilee: What other tips or strategies do you have that would help introverts?
Monica: I would say you don’t need to meet everybody in the room. You should focus on how many quality connections you make. If you’re already exhausted and thinking, “Oh my gosh, I have to talk to a lot more people, retrain your mind to think, “I just need to meet one or two really quality people to build a relationship with.” Being an efficient networker is about building relationships so that you can connect them to other people. Don’t be afraid to focus your energies on the people you made full connections with in these events versus having to meet a large number of people. It should be manageable. I know I can’t make more than three or four new quality friends a week. So, I focus on trying to find those people in the room versus having 15 business cards in hand from every event.
Terilee: Thank you, Monica, for being on TEAM Talk Radio. You can find Monica online at www.monicamhenderson.com.