If you’re an introvert, networking events may conjure feelings of dread rather than excitement. But networking doesn’t mean engaging in superficial, transactional interactions. In this book summary of The Introvert’s Edge to Networking, Matthew Pollard helps introverts leverage their strengths and to attract high-value connections.
The norms of networking are changing, and extroverts no longer boast the competitive advantage they once wielded when working a room. According to business consultant and self-professed introvert Matthew Pollard, writing with author Derek Lewis, people have grown weary of extroverts’ slick schmoozing tactics. Today, individuals seek to build genuine connections. Pollard and Lewis explain how you can leverage your unique strengths as an introvert, while strategically navigating a room to make high-value connections that propel your career forward.
- Traditional extrovert-dominated networking is outmoded and ineffective.
- Identify what you love about your work, and let your passion empower you.
- Stop being a people pleaser, and discover your niche and uniqueness.
- Create a unified message that conveys your mission and the value you create.
- Leverage the power of narrative to achieve your desired networking outcomes.
- Identify the most appropriate targets of your networking time and energy.
- Success at networking events requires advance planning, preparation and practice.
- Create a networking system to assess and improve your efforts.
Traditional extrovert-dominated networking is outmoded and ineffective.
If you’re an introvert, networking events may conjure feelings of dread rather than excitement. Yet networking is often an unavoidable necessity. Perhaps, for example, you’re job hunting, or you want to launch a new business. Extroverts tend to dominate networking events, and, as an introvert, engaging in conversations that don’t help you achieve your goal can feel like time-wasting torture. Despite what many assume, though, introverts actually have a competitive advantage over extroverts at networking events; introverts simply need to harness their unique strengths rather than sticking to traditional extrovert-oriented strategies.
“Network strategically, and you will be rewarded with connections to people who value your work and who would love to help you reach your goals faster. It’s your ticket off the hamster wheel.”
Networking norms mirror the behaviors of traveling salesmen during the Industrial Revolution. Most people tend to engage in “transactional marketing,” which means they try to sell as much as possible, without bothering to make a meaningful or lasting connection – much like a salesperson who relies on charm to make sales going door to door. Many of those who reject this calculated approach engage in “aimless networking”; that is, they behave in a genuine manner and network using an unstructured approach. Alas, such individuals don’t network effectively, as they don’t tend to connect with people who help them achieve their goals.
Happily, networking norms are beginning to change, and today few people have patience for the slick, transactional style of many extroverts. They prefer to connect with people who are authentic, honest and possess a moral compass. The Introvert’s Edge Networking System is an approach designed to help you become a “strategic networker” by leveraging your strengths as an introvert, while learning the best ways to attract high-value connections. The system relies on three Ps: “planning, preparation and practice.”
Identify what you love about your work, and let your passion empower you.
To become a strategic networker, you must first define your passion, tapping into a reason to network that extends beyond needing a job or clients. Perhaps, like many, you lack any hope of enjoying your work, and you have accepted the reality of “living for the weekends.” But if you want to grow your career and persuade others that you’re worth investing in, you need to display the charisma, drive and focus that comes from genuinely loving your work. Think of your passion as a superpower that energizes you at networking events.
“Being connected with your passion and mission gets people to give you their time, money, networks and ideas. They’ll want to follow you, work with you and help you get where you want to go. This is the kind of stuff that moves mountains.”
Connecting with your joy and passion will help anchor you to a bigger mission. Think of this as your reason for going to work each day. Connect with your career passion by reflecting on why you chose your particular role in your industry in the first place. Are there any tasks you perform without noticing time passing? What triggers your joy when working? Are there ways you could cultivate more joy at work? Try to focus on a singular mission, as it can confuse people when you take your personal brand in two unrelated directions and attempt to sell two different businesses simultaneously.
Stop being a people pleaser, and discover your niche and uniqueness.
You might mistakenly believe that you should graciously accept any clients that come your way, but, in reality, you’re better off identifying your distinct niche and catering to it. Choose to serve those who have a genuine desire to hire you, who will pay you appropriately for the value of your work, and who view you as their most logical choice. This doesn’t mean that you should automatically refuse customers who don’t fit precisely into your ideal niche market; rather, you should focus most of your energy on attracting those who do fall within your niche.
“To truly succeed at networking, you need to stop casting a wide net and instead focus on being the perfect fit for just a select few.”
If you’re a business owner trying to establish your niche, keep two lists: the names of the people whom you can count on to pay you well and the names of the people who speak positively about your work to others and who would, perhaps, write testimonials on your behalf. Next, sort these names into groups based on similarities (for example, location, beliefs, behaviors, specific needs or demographics). Identify the groups that both boost your profits and praise you. Select your niche market from these groups, choosing the group that aligns the most with your mission and passion.
Create a unified message that conveys your mission and the value you create.
When people ask you what you do for a living at networking events, how do you respond? Prepare a unified message (UM), or a single phrase that helps you distinguish yourself from your competition. A UM is a conversation starter that succinctly communicates your mission, passion and the value you create, without leaving you feeling “salesy or inauthentic.”
Ensure your UM is broad enough that it doesn’t limit your potential to expand and evolve. Incorporate a concise and creative descriptor of your role that distills the essence of your professional identity into a few words. For example, “I work with event planners wanting to create a memorable moment for attendees by providing laser light shows that dance to music: the Memory Weaver.”
Don’t rush the creative process when searching for your UM; give yourself time to play with words, perhaps consulting a thesaurus, until you find a UM that resonates with your desired message. Embracing your UM entails overcoming your fear of signaling that you’re different to others. Remember that the people who achieve success on a grand scale aren’t typically those who operate like everyone else; they’re those who dare to be different.
“Think of your UM as a movie trailer. It’s not the whole show – it’s just the teaser that gets people to buy a ticket to the full movie.”
One of the toughest parts of creating your UM is that you’ll often discover the people closest to you, such as family members, don’t express their support when you share your message with them. In fact, in many cases, they’ll be your biggest critics. This occurs for three reasons: Those who love you fear that you might fail, so they encourage you to stick with a conventional message that they view as safe; many don’t understand the use of a UM and prefer to refer to professionals by their functional skills only (for example, “I am a doctor); and many find a UM jarring because they’re used to referring to you by your functional skill label. Don’t take the criticism of those close to you too personally. You may even decide not to share your UM with your inner circle until you’ve established yourself within your desired niche.
Leverage the power of narrative to achieve your desired networking outcomes.
Resist the temptation to overwhelm people with too many details when networking. Instead, connect with people by developing your storytelling skills. Humans are hardwired to remember facts when they can associate them with a story. According to Stanford researcher Jennifer Aaker, people will remember as much as 22 times more information when you embed it into a narrative. Reflect on customer success stories and situations in which you’ve helped customers solve relatable problems and achieve desired outcomes. When you share emotional stories, you help customers connect to what you’re selling.
“Your job when networking is not to download a lifetime of experience but, instead, to tell a powerful story that educates and inspires action.”
A good business story contains four elements:
- “The problem, want or need” – Explain what your customer’s life was like before you helped them meet a need or address a challenge.
- “Analysis and implementation” – Share the epiphany moment you and your customer arrived at, when you came to a shared understanding about their needs, and what their customer experience was like as you helped them on their customer journey.
- “Outcome” – Let people know about the benefits the customer reaped, ranging from the costs they saved to any trouble you helped them avoid.
- “Moral/high-level learning” – Conclude your story with a lesson that directs the listener toward taking your desired action.
Identify the most appropriate targets of your networking time and energy.
Networking isn’t just about developing direct sales leads; it’s also about building rapport with people who will champion you within their own networks, opening up opportunities with prospects to whom you wouldn’t otherwise have access.
“How many times have you sat down next to someone and made zero effort to engage? How many awesome opportunities have been right next to you on a plane, in a restaurant, or at a bar? Who knows – you might have been sitting next to the very person you’ve been trying to reach!”
Organizational psychologist Adam Grant says people fall into one of the following three categories:
- “Givers” – When people genuinely value relationships, they give unconditionally, without expecting people to repay them in favors. Often the best champions for your business are people who want genuine no-strings-attached connections that don’t feel transactional.
- “Takers” – Takers accept help and resources from others but rarely reciprocate. It’s impossible to create a sustainable long-term connection with them, as you’ll end up feeling depleted.
- “Balance-sheet makers” – These people will call on you for favors if they do you one, and they’ll expect you to do the same. While you can create relationships grounded in reciprocity with them, they often initially fear doing anything for you, as they’ll feel indebted to you. It can feel stressful to maintain relationships with people who keep a constant tally of debts owed and favors performed in their minds.
Networking with takers and balance-sheet makers will sap you of your time and energy, so seek out givers – people who generously help you without keeping score – and be a giver in return.
Success at networking events requires advance planning, preparation and practice.
Networking is a work in progress. You won’t do it perfectly on your first, or even tenth, conversation. You can take much of the hardship out of networking events if you plan, prepare and practice in advance. Figure out who will attend, and do your homework on them. Prepare what you will say, to whom you will say it, and how you will say it. Practice your marketing script with someone close to you who will offer constructive criticism. Ask them to be more positive and encouraging the first time you rehearse, and to challenge you a bit more the second time. Keep tweaking your delivery. Hold on to what works and improve what doesn’t. The following tactics can help you succeed at networking events:
- Perfect your “networking playbook” – Create a script you can use conversationally in different scenarios to attract new clients and secure new leads, then practice it. You’ll likely be meeting new, but similar, people all the time in your industry, so you’re the only one who’ll know you’re repeating yourself, like an actor running their lines.
- Invite conversations – Test-drive your UM at marketing events. Try out your message on your desired niche to ensure they’re receptive to it. First, ask people what they do, and listen actively and with empathy. Wait for people to ask you what you do, then tell them your role and your UM. When prompted, expand further with a scripted response.
- Don’t try to finalize deals – Networking events are not the place to make final sales or discuss the fine details of business agreements. If someone tries to discuss the minutiae of a deal with you, set aside time to communicate later and explore possibilities.
- Make plans to follow up – If there’s a collaboration you’re particularly keen on bringing to fruition, but the other party isn’t yet displaying commitment, make plans to follow up with them later (for example, sending them some free content that you discussed with them). Extend two or more options of times to have a meeting, which shifts their thinking from considering whether they want to meet at all to trying to figure out the best time for a meeting.
- Follow up – Don’t forget to follow up with people you identify as potential champions, “momentum partners” (people with whom you have mutually beneficial relationships, as you make valuable introductions for one another), and potential clients or customers.
Create a networking system to assess and improve your efforts.
Complement your in-person networking with a digital presence, ensuring your online and offline marketing and sales tactics function in harmony to create your desired outcomes. Despite what experts may say, you don’t need to create a constant stream of new blog content or regularly post photos on social media if you don’t want to; simply ensure you have an up-to-date website and social profiles.
“Trust the system, get a working car off the line – regardless of how wonky it looks or feels – then focus on perfecting the process. ”
Embrace a Henry Ford–inspired “factory line” approach to systematize your networking efforts. After you attend networking events, assess your performance. Reflect on whether people responded well to you, whether you felt you were conversational when delivering stories you’d scripted, and whether your conversations triggered expected responses. If you didn’t win new customers or leads, mull over the aspects of your system that broke down: Were the people with whom you spoke outside your niche, for example? Don’t take it personally when you don’t achieve the results you’d hoped for at a networking event. Rather, remind yourself that failure simply means you need to recalibrate an aspect of your marketing system, then try again.
Matthew Pollard helps businesses achieve growth and transformation as the Rapid Growth Guy and the founder of Small Business Festival. Derek Lewis is the author of The Business Book Bible, as well as a business ghostwriter. His clients include the International Monetary Fund and Disney.
This book is a valuable resource for introverts and anyone looking to improve their networking skills, leverage social media, and develop meaningful connections in their professional lives. In this review, I will provide a detailed analysis of the book’s content, highlighting its strengths, weaknesses, and key takeaways.
The book is divided into three parts. The first part focuses on understanding your personal brand and identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Pollard emphasizes the importance of finding your niche and building a personal brand that showcases your unique value proposition. He also provides tips on how to create an elevator pitch that highlights your strengths and resonates with your target audience.
The second part of the book is all about networking strategies. Pollard provides practical tips on how to work a room, including how to initiate conversations, how to be a good listener, and how to follow up with new contacts. He also discusses the importance of body language and voice modulation, and provides tips on how to project confidence and build rapport with others.
The third part of the book focuses on leveraging social media to build powerful connections. Pollard emphasizes the importance of having a strong online presence and provides tips on how to create a professional profile, build a network, and engage with others on various social media platforms. He also discusses the importance of content creation and provides guidance on how to create content that resonates with your target audience.
- Practical tips and strategies: The book offers actionable tips and strategies for introverts to navigate networking events, leverage social media, and build meaningful connections. The advice is practical, easy to implement, and based on the author’s extensive experience in the field.
- Insights into introverted personality traits: Pollard provides a comprehensive understanding of introverted personality traits and how they impact networking behaviors. He offers insights into how introverts can use their strengths to their advantage in professional settings.
- Social media strategies: The book offers a wide range of social media strategies that introverts can use to build their personal brand, connect with others, and grow their networks. These strategies are practical and easy to implement, making them accessible to readers of all skill levels.
- Real-world examples: Pollard provides numerous real-world examples of how introverts have successfully navigated networking events and built powerful connections. These examples serve as inspiration and motivation for readers to apply the book’s strategies in their own lives.
- Limited focus on technology: While the book covers social media strategies extensively, it could benefit from a more comprehensive exploration of technology’s role in networking. With the increasing importance of digital communication, a more detailed discussion of technology’s impact on networking would have been valuable.
- Lack of addressing different personality types: While the book focuses primarily on introverted personality traits, it could benefit from a more comprehensive exploration of other personality types and how they approach networking. This would make the book more inclusive and relevant to a broader range of readers.
- Limited discussion of networking in different industries: While the book provides general networking strategies, it could benefit from a more detailed exploration of networking in different industries. This would help readers tailor their strategies to their specific career paths and industries.
The book is primarily targeted at introverts who are looking to improve their networking skills and build powerful connections in a way that leverages their strengths. However, the book’s advice and strategies can be useful for anyone looking to improve their networking skills, regardless of their personality type.
- Networking is a long-term strategy: Pollard emphasizes that networking is a long-term strategy that requires consistent effort and dedication. Introverts should view networking as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event.
- Leverage your strengths: Introverts have unique strengths that can be leveraged in professional settings. By understanding and embracing their strengths, introverts can build powerful connections and achieve their career goals.
- Develop a strong personal brand: Pollard stresses the importance of developing a strong personal brand in today’s digital age. Introverts should prioritize building their personal brand by creating a professional online presence, networking, and showcasing their skills and expertise.
- Be strategic with social media: Social media can be a powerful tool for introverts to build their personal brand and connect with others. However, it’s important to be strategic in how they use social media, focusing on quality over quantity and building meaningful connections rather than just accumulating followers.
The book has received positive reviews from readers who have found it helpful, inspiring, and empowering. Some of the feedback includes:
- “This book is a game-changer for introverts who want to network effectively.”
- “This book has given me the confidence and tools to network like a pro.”
- “This book has changed my perspective on networking and opened up new possibilities for me.”
- “This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to build meaningful connections in today’s world.”
The book has also been featured in various media outlets such as Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fast Company, and more.
To summarize, The Introvert’s Edge to Networking: Work the Room. Leverage Social Media. Develop Powerful Connections by Matthew Pollard is a book that teaches introverts how to network successfully by using their natural strengths and following a proven system. It is based on Pollard’s own experience as an introverted entrepreneur who has built a global network of influencers and clients. It is full of practical advice, stories, and resources that can help anyone improve their networking skills and results.
“The Introvert’s Edge to Networking” is an excellent resource for introverts looking to improve their networking skills, leverage social media, and develop meaningful connections in their professional lives. While the book has some limitations, its strengths far outweigh its weaknesses. Pollard’s practical tips and strategies, insights into introverted personality traits, and real-world examples make the book an invaluable resource for anyone looking to navigate the complex world of networking. By applying the book’s strategies, introverts can build powerful connections, advance their careers, and achieve their professional goals.