Networking, but Not Really

A friend of mine who works in knowledge management is pretty introverted. Even though I think he does himself a disservice in rating his people skills, he’s expressed concern about and confusion with most traditional business networking practices. So as soon as he came across Penelope Trunk’s recent Brazen Careerist column Networking for Introverts, he fired off an email to me.

Trunk comes close to confusing introversion for shyness, but if you don’t jive with most networking resources, her five-step plan might be useful. The short form:

  • Use e-mail. You don’t have to speak to contacts. You can write and rewrite your message until it’s right.
  • Read everything. When something is published about someone you know, send a congratulatory email.
  • Go to parties rather than dinners. You can kill more birds with one stone by making one of your rare social appearances in front of lots of people.
  • Help others. They’ll remember the favor and view you as a friend.
  • Send New Year’s cards. Include a short note to each person.

And the advice is useful to extroverts, too. After reading a short item about Tim Sanders in another magazine earlier this week, I sent him a catch-up email. Of course, since he’s a fan of Bill Jensen’s CLEAR model for managing email, he’s yet to respond. But that’s OK.