Crowded networking events can be a source of dread for introverts. But Holly Raider, a clinical professor of management at the Kellogg School of Management, believes introverts can be just as skilled at networking as extroverts if they learn to ignore the crowd and focus on shaping individual conversations. In a new Kellogg Insight, she says that “introversion can be harnessed as a networking superpower.”
Raider recommends developing a repertoire of questions before the event, including conversation starters, follow-ups and open-ended questions.
“You want people to feel at ease and engaged, so ask questions that will help nurture dialogue,” Raider says. “Avoid questions where the answer might be strained, socially isolating or a dead end. People will have a lot to say—and they’ll enjoy talking to you—if they’re prompted in the right way.”
Raider suggests starting with something expected, such as “What are your responsibilities?” But she recommends having second and third questions that go a bit deeper.
Remember that listening carefully will help make your follow-up questions more engaging and also allow you to discover shared interests, values and experiences.
Raider also offers tips on choosing conversation partners, focusing on quality vs. quantity when it comes to working the room, and knowing when to move on to the next conversation. See the full Kellogg Insight: “How Introverts Can Learn to Love Networking.”