People are wired differently. In a recent workshop on networking, I led a group of young professionals through a few fun and interactive exercises. The goal was to learn how extroverts and introverts naturally think, act and respond in social situations.
Networking events are interesting. Extroverts love them because they get energized by meeting new people. Introverts also enjoy meeting new people, however they prefer to talk with one person at a time or be part of a smaller group.
When an extrovert enters a networking event, he or she looks forward to going. Honestly, most introverts arrive at a networking event feeling dread. Why? Because introverts feel most comfortable around familiar people.
We structured the group experience to accommodate both introverts and extroverts. Everyone who came was greeted by a member at the door. Tables of 6 were set up around the room to provide everyone with the opportunity to socialize in a small group setting. There were handouts available. Introverts tend to pick those up and read through them prior to the start of a meeting. Extroverts, however toss those aside and find someone to introduce themselves to.
Sarah, an extrovert didn’t mind being in the spotlight as she and I demonstrated to the group, how we are wired much differently. Believe it or not, as the speaker, I am an introvert. Although I come to life talking about what I love: optimizing your life by understanding how you are hard-wired…. I have to admit that I felt pretty exhausted by the end of the 1.5 hour workshop. Not because I had talked in front of the group for that long. I had prepared which is something introverts thrive on. I just felt drained because I was the center of attention, in a room full of people whom I was meeting for the first time, and I really wanted to make sure they got what they needed. My brain was on overload by the end. And then there was Sarah, smiling and still talking after the event was over.
The workshop was a success. How do I know? Because everyone was engaged and smiling. I watched as each person answered some questions and discovered his/her tendencies to be more introverted or extroverted. Then, within small groups, the participants enjoyed introducing themselves to their neighbors. It worked for both. And, the participants all got the chance to compare notes and experience first-hand how they were different and/or similar in personality.
We concluded with some Q&A as well as tips on how to network effectively with others. One key difference between introverts and extroverts is in how decisions are made. Introverts typically need time to think through options before making a decision on a purchase for example. They don’t want to be pressured on the spot. Actually, if you push them, the answer will most likely be “no thanks.” An extrovert, on the other hand, will make a decision on a purchase fairly quickly. If you don’t follow up with them soon after the pitch, their answer will be “no” because they have already moved on to the next opportunity and forgotten about whatever you were trying to sell them.