How to network: Networking for People Who Hate Networking
How to network? Devora Zack, who used to be a shy person, has created a fresh way to make friends that works great for people who are shy and don’t have many connections. She shares tips, stories, and examples to help introverts build their social circle without feeling tired.
Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected
By Devora Zack, 2011 (French edition), 2010 (Original American edition), 172 pages
Summary of How to network: “Networking for People Who Hate Networking”
According to a study called MBTI, half of the people are introverts, and the other half are extroverts. This means that half of the population doesn’t really enjoy going to networking events or spending long evenings talking with coworkers.
However, networking is important for everyone to make progress in their work and personal lives. Introverts, despite their dislike for networking, also need to build friendships and professional contacts. They might read books and seek advice to improve themselves, but they often struggle when meeting new people, and they usually feel disappointed after networking events.
In How to network “Networking for People Who Hate Networking,” Devora Zack explains that introverts fail at networking because they are given advice that doesn’t suit their personality. The advice is often aimed at extroverts, who are very different from introverts. It’s like serving introverts a dish they don’t like, such as quiche Lorraine with bacon, every day.
The book How to network; “Networking for People Who Hate Networking” is a great help for those who describe themselves as “shy” or avoid social gatherings.
In How to network, Devora Zack challenges common misconceptions about networking and breaks down negative stereotypes about introverted behavior.
We often think that extroverts have the right approach to networking, but surprisingly, we learn that they can benefit from adopting some of the networking techniques used by introverts. The author encourages introverts to embrace their natural style when networking because what they see as weaknesses can actually be strengths in building strong and lasting connections.
Devora Zack provides introverts with a method that includes advice, practical steps, and real-life examples from her own experience. This method helps introverts successfully network while staying true to their personality and going at their own pace.
Chapter 1: Welcome
Devora Zack, a complete introvert who has always been naturally reserved and enjoyed solitude, didn’t particularly like social events. However, she managed to become an expert in networking. How did she do it? By studying introverted people for 15 years and by understanding herself. Her main focus was on building deep and genuine relationships, not just collecting a lot of shallow ones.
Devora Zack created her own method for networking and now travels the world hosting conferences and seminars for her company, Only Connect Consulting.
The unfortunate thing about introverts is that they are often misunderstood. People may see them as weak and uninteresting because, from a young age, they tend to be less social, prefer solitary activities, and may not talk as much. Devora Zack dispels these misconceptions and explains that introverts actually have three main characteristics: they are reflective, focused, and self-reliant.
Chapter 2: How to network: Self-Assessment
In the book “Networking for People Who Hate Networking,” there’s no intention to pit introverts against extroverts or claim that one style is better than the other. Instead, the goal is to encourage everyone to understand the unique aspects of their own style so they can communicate better with others and gain a deeper understanding of them.
To start off on the right foot and avoid unnecessary frustration with a colleague’s behavior, it’s important to remember two things:
- The same action can have different underlying intentions. For example, if you ask an extrovert why they have voicemail, they might say it’s to never miss a call. But if you ask the same question to an introvert, they might explain it’s to avoid answering calls.
- People’s working styles can be fundamentally different. In a team, an introvert may need continuous focus to be effective, while an extrovert may benefit from taking breaks for casual conversation during work sessions.
The main aim is to understand our differences and find ways to interact better and work together effectively.
To help with this understanding, Devora Zack suggests taking a simple test to determine where we fall on the spectrum between introvert and extrovert, or even somewhere in between (called centrovert). It’s a quick assessment with 12 straightforward questions.
This self-assessment provides an idea of our dominant personality profile. The book’s examples are likely to resonate more with those who are closer to the extreme ends of the spectrum.
I took the test, and here’s the result (drum roll, please)… I scored 32 out of a maximum of 36 points, making me almost a “queen of introversion.” This wasn’t a surprise to me, and it reinforced my decision to read “Networking for People Who Hate Networking.”
Chapter 3: Eliminating Stereotypes
Appearances can be misleading! Sometimes, a quiet person can be outgoing, and someone who seems outgoing can be shy.
So, how can we tell if someone is an introvert or an extrovert? Well, it’s important to understand that they view concepts like respect, relationships, and relaxation differently.
In “Networking for People Who Hate Networking,” Devora Zack provides two helpful lessons to help us better understand this topic and let go of our preconceived ideas and stereotypes.
1- Crash Course in Introverts
Here’s a quick question to ponder for a moment: “When you hear the word ‘introvert,’ what traits come to mind?” In her seminars, Devora often hears responses like “boring, slow, distant, not a team player…”
It seems that our common perception of introverts isn’t very positive, right? However, introverts who embrace their true nature instead of trying to change it have real strengths that can help them build high-quality relationships.
The key is understanding yourself well enough to make the right choices. The table below summarizes three principles and three techniques that introverts can use to develop strong connections.
The author highlights several strengths of introverts, including their ability to reflect, stay focused, observe details, decode non-verbal cues, and be self-reliant. However, introverts may also have weaknesses, like a strong need for privacy and feeling drained by excessive chatter. These traits can make them appear distant and potentially come across as cold to others.
2- Crash Course in Extroverts
What do introverts generally think about extroverts? Well, let me share a few stereotypes that I sometimes have about my outgoing colleagues when I’m a bit annoyed:
“They can be thoughtless, talk a lot, don’t really listen, want to control everything, and often dominate conversations at the expense of others!”
I know, it’s not a kind or accurate way to think about them. Stereotypes can be hard to change. Thankfully, I read “Networking for People Who Hate Networking” to improve my understanding!
Extroverts have their own unique style and strengths, too. They deserve recognition for their qualities:
- They can easily build relationships.
- They are adaptable and can handle various situations well.
- They are good at resolving conflicts.
However, extroverts also have their weaknesses:
- They may not pay as much attention to maintaining long-term relationships because they focus on the present moment.
- They tend to talk a lot and provide unnecessary details.
They might come across as intrusive in conversations, especially regarding personal matters.
All these insights aim to help us learn more about each other, understand each other better, and interact more effectively by breaking down our preconceived notions.
Chapter 4: How to network: Why Do We Hate Networking?
Before heading to a networking event, it’s important to understand that introverts often feel anxious. They might secretly wish they could escape, go back home, and relax on their couch with a good book.
What’s happening in their minds? Well, internally, introverts tend to imagine the worst-case scenario:
“To network, I’ll have to chat, share about my life, and talk to strangers… Everything I dislike! I won’t know what to say; I’ll probably be on the sidelines; people might find me uninteresting; they’ll ignore me, and I’ll end up ruining my evening!”
It’s tough to enjoy networking with such negative thoughts! Luckily, there’s a trick to prevent this kind of self-criticism from ruining the night.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes when you put a new frame around a picture, it makes the painting look absolutely fantastic? Well, the same idea applies to our actions in life. We often carry around old, dusty thought patterns from our past experiences. But when we approach reality with a fresh perspective, it can change the way we interact with people and events.
Let’s give this experiment a try:
Instead of thinking, “Networking is just small talk,” try thinking, “Networking is a chance for me to build meaningful relationships with people I choose.”
Rather than believing, “I’ll have to share my life story with strangers,” consider, “I’ll take the time to ask questions and listen to people I find interesting.”
Instead of dreading, “An entire evening of non-stop chatter! I’m tired just thinking about it,” plan to leave work a bit earlier, rest before the event, enjoy the conversations until 9 PM, and then go home to relax on the couch with a great novel.
Devora Zack also shares a unique approach to hosting her workshops. She calmly prepares in the training room, reviews her notes, and doesn’t rush to greet early arrivals. She conserves her energy to give her best during the session. She waits to be introduced, then starts with enthusiasm and a big smile. Participants leave her seminars feeling delighted.
2- Take Action: Self-image and Networking
Devora Zack suggests a helpful exercise: recall a past networking event that you considered negative and change your self-talk to be more positive.
Here are three tips to guide you through this process:
- Recognize Your Negative Thoughts: First, become aware of the negative thoughts you had during that event.
- Replace, Don’t Erase: Instead of trying to force those negative thoughts out of your mind (which can be counterproductive), think of a positive statement that can gradually replace those negative thoughts.
- Shift Your Perspective: By changing your self-talk, you can stop seeing yourself as a victim and start celebrating your small victories. For example, instead of dwelling on a moment when you stuttered while talking to the CEO, you can focus on the fact that you redeemed yourself and had a 10-minute conversation about your project. You can then set a positive goal for the next time.
This shift in mentality can help you build confidence and celebrate your progress step by step.
Chapter 5: How to network: New Rules that Work to Grow Your Network
Here are three new rules to make networking easier, replacing old beliefs:
- New Rule No. 1 (replaces “I shoot from the hip and say whatever”): Take Time to Reflect and Observe
- Before the event, think about what you want to say and prepare your thoughts.
- During the event, focus on observing and gathering information instead of constantly talking.Remember, learning often happens through observation rather than speaking.
- New Rule No. 2 (replaces “Promote yourself and sell yourself”): Listen and Ask Questions
- Extroverts are good at self-promotion, but introverts may feel uncomfortable doing so.
- Introverts’ strength lies in listening and paying attention to others, which leaves a positive impression.
- Ask well-formulated open questions like “How?” and “What?” to encourage others to open up.
- Avoid asking “why,” as it can come across as intrusive.
- New Rule No. 3 (replaces “Spend as much time as possible with others (party)”): Follow Your Own Pace
- Introverts have different preferences when it comes to socializing.
- Unlike extroverted adventurers who enjoy chatting with strangers all day, introverts thrive in structured, topic-focused conversations.
- Introverts do better when they network at their own pace and focus on building a strong, compact network of reliable contacts.
Remember, for introverts, quality matters more than quantity. They give their all, and trying to pursue too many goals or relationships simultaneously can be overwhelming. Instead, they benefit from taking their time and building meaningful connections.
Chapter 6: Networking Activity Survival Kit
Even if you’ve just discovered that you, as an introvert, have some great networking skills, you might still need a little push to get started.
Let’s face it, mingling with a crowd and indulging in small talk over appetizers might not come naturally to you. It’s a bit like going to the gym – you might not feel like it at first, but after putting in the effort, you’ll feel good about it. This is especially true if you follow the new rules tailored to your introverted style.
This part of the book is interesting because Devora provides practical advice to help you prepare for various networking situations effectively.
Pause and Reflect: Take a moment to think about the event.
- Register Early: Sign up in advance to commit to attending.
- Choose Comfort: Pick an outfit that makes you feel at ease.
- Time for Yourself: Leave work a bit early and take 30 minutes for yourself before heading to the event.
- Early Arrival: Get there at the event’s start to feel more comfortable and easily engage with a smaller crowd. Avoid arriving late when everyone is already in groups.
- Help Set Up: If possible, assist with event preparations to casually network with a defined role.
- Bring a Friend: Consider going with a friend for support.
- Set Goals: Define your goals, like meeting at least two new people.
- Freshen Up: Ensure your breath is fresh.
- Check Nametags: Take a look at people’s nametags at the entrance to identify those you already know and get an idea of who’s attending.
- Buffet Strategy: Position yourself near the buffet; it’s a handy conversation starter. You can comment on the food like, “Have you tried this cheese? The buffet looks fantastic, doesn’t it?”
- Observe and Plan: Discreetly scan the room and attendees, then identify the people you’d like to approach.
- Queue Chat: Strike up conversations with those around you in line, and when you’re served, it’s a good time to exchange business cards. You can ask simple questions like, “What brought you to this event?”
- Be Friendly: Keep an approachable demeanor by smiling.
- Notice the Unique: Pay attention to unique accessories or attire; if you spot something unusual, compliment the person wearing it.
Take It Slow: Don’t rush; follow your own rhythm
- Ask Questions: If you’re not sure what to talk about, ask people sensible questions like, “What kind of work do you do? What do you enjoy most about your job? Any holiday plans?”
- Respect Privacy: Decide beforehand what you’re comfortable revealing about yourself to avoid awkward moments. Devora Zack has a list of clever questions you can prepare answers for.
- Take Breaks: Schedule short breaks to recharge. Step outside for some fresh air or go for a relaxing walk. Be mindful of sensory overload and set your own limits.
- Keep Notes: Occasionally jot down notes on business cards, including names, dates, locations, personal details, and a memorable conversation snippet for future reference.
- End Conversations Gracefully: Politely wrap up conversations; don’t keep people talking for too long. Say something like, “I enjoyed our conversation, but I promised myself I’d meet others. I don’t want to hold you up.”
- Know When to Leave: Don’t overstay; leave before you’re exhausted. If you stay too long and lose your alertness, it can leave a negative impression.
By following these guidelines, you can network comfortably while respecting your own pace and boundaries.
Here’s a key strength introverts possess for successful networking:
“Extroverts dazzle with light banter, introverts dazzle with thoughtful follow-up.”.
Don’t hesitate to send an e-mail or a written letter within 48 hours after the event to the people with whom you had good contact. Remember the context of your exchange and send, for example, an article or information germane to your conversation.
With all these tips, you can easily survive at your next networking event. To test this new way of bonding and gently pushing the limits of your comfort zone, you can, for example, start by accepting the your colleagues’ next invitation to go out to eat (the one you have always declined so you could rather relax at home after work ).
Chapter 7: Farewell Golden Rule
To maintain good relationships with others, we often hear the golden rule: “Treat others as you want to be treated.” However, Devora Zack suggests we adopt a new mindset, the platinum rule: “Treat others how they want to be treated.”
To understand this shift in perspective, consider a real-life scenario. Imagine you’ve had a tough day at work, and your extroverted colleague invites you to a lively pub for a drink, thinking they’re doing you a favor. However, all you really want is to go home, take a relaxing shower, and listen to music. You agree out of politeness, but deep down, you’re irritated.
Now, picture the opposite situation. After a challenging day at work, you tell your employee to go home without discussing the day’s events. You think you’re being considerate, assuming they must feel as drained as you do and need to recharge at home. However, your employee is internally disappointed because they wanted to continue the conversation with you over a drink to reflect on the day.
The platinum rule reminds us to consider how others want to be treated and adapt our actions accordingly, rather than assuming everyone wants the same treatment we do.
In both situations, people are projecting their own preferences onto their interactions with others. This highlights that the golden rule, treating others as you want to be treated, doesn’t always work.
According to the author, the platinum rule is the most powerful concept in her seminars, leading to the most significant changes in how people behave and interact with others. It’s a rule based on genuine respect for different communication styles, and applying it requires effort but is highly rewarding.
To use the platinum rule effectively, you’ll need some training in recognizing the natural preferences of those you’re interacting with. This involves observing their verbal and non-verbal cues and then adjusting your communication to match their style. The challenge is to adapt your behavior to the other person’s style while conserving your energy and respecting your own personality.
Chapter 8: How to network: Networking Without a Safety Net
In this part of how to network: “Networking for People Who Hate Networking,” Devora Zack offers advice to introverts on how to balance their social involvement to avoid being perceived as aloof. This advice applies not only to networking events but also to everyday life since every interaction can be seen as an opportunity to network.
Introverts can thrive in social situations by prioritizing well-structured activities and programs over informal gatherings. They excel when they have a clear role and a genuine interest in the topic being discussed. These activities can include courses, training programs, or conferences where they actively participate or even take on a specific role.
Devora herself found an unexpected fit for her introverted nature as the official DJ for campus parties. Surprisingly, this role aligned perfectly with her personality: she had a defined mission, specific interactions with students (playing requested music), and could enjoy social events without the pressure of engaging in numerous exhausting conversations. Plus, she brought joy to others in the process!
You too, think about the type of activity that might be suitable for you in order to do more networking.
If you’re an introvert, consider finding activities that suit your networking style. Introverts tend to need time for reflection and processing. When someone asks for your participation, it’s okay to refrain from an immediate “no.” Instead, express your need to think about it or request more details in writing, and always take your time to respond.
Introverts thrive in peaceful and quiet environments where they can connect with like-minded individuals who share their interests, such as libraries or structured settings.
While you may not have the extrovert’s gift of eloquence, you excel in performing small acts of kindness, like helping with setup, distributing materials, or sharing useful information. Engaging others by asking questions allows you to make a meaningful impact in your unique way, all without depleting your valuable energy.
Chapter 9: Searching for a Job
Devora Zack shares her expertise on what introverts should focus on during their job search:
Pay attention to your appearance: Introverts tend to focus on their inner world and may overlook their outward appearance. A simple and effective technique to create a positive image is to smile—it’s sure to leave a good impression.
Make a strong first impression: Remember that it takes more than eight encounters to erase a negative first impression. To make a positive impact, do what introverts excel at—reflect and prepare before interviews.
Build your networks: In both real life and online, prioritize building high-quality connections that align with your personal style.
Perfect your “elevator pitch”: Imagine you meet a highly influential person in an elevator, and they ask you to introduce yourself in just 30 seconds. It’s essential to prepare for such opportunities as they can arise unexpectedly.
Manage your energy and set limits: Organize your schedule to include time for recharging, networking, and interviews, ensuring you maintain a healthy balance throughout your job search.
Chapter 10: Business Travel
You never know who you might meet while traveling. Devora Zack once unintentionally overlooked the dean of the college where she was interviewing for a job. He was seated right next to her during the flight to the interview location. Business trips, whether by train or plane, can lead to unexpected and enjoyable encounters.
1- While en route
You don’t need to talk throughout the entire journey, but make an effort to communicate about 10% of the time:
- Start by greeting the person when you take your seat.
- Offer small gestures of kindness during the trip, like sharing chewing gum or a magazine.
- Allow some time for conversation, especially after the in-flight meal.
- Politely conclude the conversation with phrases like “Unfortunately, I have work to do,” “I need some rest before we arrive,” or “It was great talking to you.”
- If you feel a good connection, you can exchange business cards before the journey ends.
- Send a friendly email or text within 24 hours to follow up.
2 – On site
Introverts can make business trips more manageable by planning and organizing their schedule in advance rather than relying on spontaneity. Here’s how they can do it:
- Identify specific time slots for networking activities (workshops, lunches, free time) and select the people they want to connect with. Then, reduce these chosen time slots by 50% to allow for personal downtime and recharging.
- Politely decline invitations for evening outings after the seminar by saying something simple like, “Thank you, but I’m planning to relax at the hotel tonight.” No need for elaborate excuses or justifications; it’s essential to respect one’s limits.
- List potential networking opportunities and prioritize the ones that align with personal interests and goals. When genuinely interested, introverts are more engaging and enjoy networking more, leading to better connections.
- Prepare a list of personal and professional topics to discuss with others (common points). These topics should be brief, positive, engaging, diverse, and suitable for different situations. For example, they can include current job responsibilities, hobbies, recent vacations, and more. Practice discussing these topics with a trusted individual to ensure they can naturally integrate them into conversations.
Chapter 11: Organizing Activities that Work for Everyone
This part of how to network: “Networking for People Who Hate Networking” is aimed at managers, trainers, or teachers who want to create events that cater to all personality types: introverts, centroverts, and extroverts. Devora uses the case study of brainstorming to illustrate her point.
You’re likely familiar with brainstorming, where participants generate numerous ideas. Typically, the host stands at a whiteboard, and people share their suggestions verbally. However, this exercise tends to favor extroverts.
Introverts often observe, think, and occasionally offer ideas but remain quiet for most of the session unless a topic particularly interests them. This is unfortunate because it means the host misses out on 50% of potential suggestions.
Fortunately, there’s a solution. You can adapt this activity to ensure all personality types can contribute. How? Give participants 1 or 2 minutes to write their ideas on sticky notes and then allow each person to verbalize their thoughts one by one.
This approach is more inclusive and allows everyone to participate. Overall, the author recommends organizing various icebreaker activities to help participants get to know each other, and alternating between informal and structured moments to accommodate each individual’s comfort and pace.
Chapter 12: Defining Outcomes, Achieving Goals
The author suggests taking action and setting goals that are positive, within our control, achievable with effort, measurable, environmentally friendly, and aligned with our values. These goals should leverage our strengths and help us expand our network by defining specific outcomes.
To illustrate this, she shares the story of Carlos, an introverted executive who was well-respected at his company but felt somewhat disconnected from his colleagues. Carlos aimed to improve his networking skills. His goal was to invite people he didn’t know well for coffee or lunch twice a month for three months. He tracked his progress using a simple Excel chart. By setting these goals, he formed new habits and became more comfortable reaching out to people. Importantly, these goals were aligned with his introverted style, involving in-person meetings spaced out to allow him to process and maintain his preferred pace.
Conclusion: How to network: Networking for People Who Hate Networking
First and foremost, how to network: “Networking for People Who Hate Networking” was a revelation for me! It helped me understand what was wrong with my approach to networking and how I could build more meaningful relationships.
Before reading this book, I used to beat myself up for not being as outgoing as my extroverted colleagues, who had hundreds of LinkedIn connections. I’d push myself to collect business cards and engage in superficial interactions, leaving me drained and unsatisfied. It felt like trying to write with my non-dominant hand – exhausting and unfulfilling.
Now, I’ve embraced my introverted nature and no longer pretend to be someone I’m not. I’ve learned to value taking time to think before speaking, preparing thoroughly, and focusing on the quality of connections over quantity. I’m confident and comfortable in my own skin.
I hope my fellow introverted and centroverted readers will take the advice and exercises from this book to positively transform their lives. And for my extroverted friends, keep being yourselves – together, we can move forward in the right direction!
This book isn’t just for reserved individuals; it can benefit anyone, including parents, teachers, managers, spouses, or friends of introverts. It helps you recognize different personality profiles and adjust your communication accordingly. For example, I understood my daughter’s need for alone time after school, thanks to this book.
When making requests to introverts, give them time to think rather than demanding immediate answers. Introverts need time to provide thoughtful responses.
In conclusion, this practical guide helps us reconcile with ourselves and others. Life is a continuous process of networking, so it’s essential to communicate while staying true to our inner selves. If you want to further develop quality relationships, I recommend reading Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” alongside this book. It offers additional simple and actionable tips. Remember, don’t confine yourself to introvert, extrovert, or centrovert labels. You have the power to expand your comfort zone, learn from others, and grow.
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