Watch video
How to Network Effectively – or Skip it Altogether
22 min watch
Mar 6, 2018

How to Network Effectively – or Skip it Altogether

5 min read  |  Mar 6, 2018

Can you really just say no to networking events? Yes…with an important caveat.

Discover the bolt of insight that led Dorie Clark to realize she could say goodbye to networking forever and still accomplish all her goals.

Small Business Growth, On Your Own Terms

From a convoluted career path with lots of doors closing in her face, to becoming a wildly successful business owner and the author of the Inc. #1 business book of 2015, Dorie Clark is a testament to the amazing things introverts can achieve when we identify and harness our inherent strengths.

For introverts who engage in a lot of business activities traditionally associated with extroversion – like presenting, being the public face of a company or organization, and networking – it’s especially important for us to manage our energy and determine the specific activities that tire us out. And sometimes, this can be surprising. During her whirlwind worldwide speaking tour for her book Stand Out, for example, Dorie discovered that speaking from stage, which she did once or twice a week for a year, was not the issue; it was the networking and socializing afterwards that drained her.

Understanding exactly what most consumes our energy allows us to structure our activities in a way that lets us deliver when we need to, without feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and obligated. This, in turn, helps to grow the business on our own terms, liberating us from running the business the way we think we “should.”

“As an introvert, learning how to manage my energy has enabled me to become successful.” - @dorieclark Click To Tweet

Get More Clients by Networking YOUR Way

Once Dorie discovered that, for her, traditional networking and socializing were awkward, uncomfortable, and energy-draining, she simply decided to stop doing it! This was a liberating turning point for her, knowing that she would never again have to approach strangers in a loud, crowded setting and try to make uncomfortable small talk.

However, saying goodbye to traditional networking came with an important caveat. Dorie explains that connecting with others is still vitally important – but she now does it in a way that works for her. Instead of attending luncheons and events, which for her are draining and take time and energy away from her more productive business activities, Dorie now holds dinner gatherings for a relaxed, intimate, and enjoyable evening.

Dorie suggests that you can do the same – discover what kinds of networking activities work for you, and then get to them. It could be dinners, like Dorie, or one-on-one coffees, or Skype meetings. While you can’t avoid networking altogether, you can find a strategy that fits your needs and strengths.

“Introverts can’t just opt out of networking, but we can find a variation that works better for us.” - @dorieclark Click To Tweet

Some Questions I Ask:

  • Did your introversion provide any barriers in your career? How did you overcome them? (0:59)
  • Which activities drain your energy, and which recharge it? How do you balance it all? (3:10)
  • How can introverts reframe our perceived limitations and regard them as strengths? (5:53)
  • How did you figure out what’s comfortable for you when it comes to networking, and what you’re just not going to do? (9:10)
  • What advice do you have for authentic content marketing? (12:42)
  • For those introverted listeners who may not be as articulate and confident as you are, should they try to improve, or is it better to just be yourself? (17:50)

In This Episode, You’ll Learn:

  • How a varied career path can land you in the exact right place (1:05)
  • How to manage your energy for maximum productivity, results, and self-care (3:20)
  • Handling the awkwardness associated with event-based small talk and socializing (6:34)
  • When to give yourself permission to say “no” – and why you shouldn’t feel bad about doing so (7:10)
  • How to stop the default of blaming yourself when things go wrong (9:34)
  • What you can do INSTEAD of networking (10:48)
  • Why introverts are uniquely well equipped to excel at content marketing (12:50)
  • How to use your authenticity to “tell,” not “sell” (13:43)
  • Don’t force yourself to do the things you’re not great at; find out what you do better than others and focus on that (18:18)

Resources Mentioned in the Show

Watch video
Watch the video

Have your say

Transcription Icon

Matt: Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Introvert’s Edge. Today I’m ecstatic to introduce to you, Dorie Clark, who not only is an introvert herself, but also the author of Inc’s number one leadership book, and the author of Entrepreneurial You, an amazing book, teaching people how to monetize their unique expertise. And I have to say, I’m absolutely ecstatic to welcome her. Because she’s spoken so much about how to be successful as an introvert. She’s mastered a lot of these things that we think as introverts, we can’t do. So Dorie, I’m so ecstatic to introduce you. Welcome to the show.

Dorie: Thank you Matthew, I’m really glad to talk to you.

Matt: So I’m really interested in you sharing your journey. Because you had a lot of ups and downs in your trajectory to your “instant success” there that everybody talks about, right? So I’d love to hear a little bit about – how you came from where you started, to where you are now. And how your introversion played in – as barriers towards where you now are today, successfully.

Dorie: So for the past 11 years, I’ve actually had my own business doing marketing strategy, consulting and writing and teaching and speaking. But prior to that – in my twenties, I had a lot of different careers. And it wasn’t – it wasn’t necessarily me jumping around, because I was being flaky. It was because – just doors were slamming all the time in my face. I wanted to actually get a doctorate and become an academic. That was my original goal. And I ended up finishing my Master’s degree, and then getting turned down by every doctoral program that I applied to.

And so then, I said, “Okay, well where else can I write and learn?” You know, things that a lot of introverts like. And I thought, “Okay, I can be a newspaper reporter.” So I did that. And after about a year working at newspapers, I got laid off. It was really the start of the collapse of the journalism industry. And I had been covering – I couldn’t get another journalism job, there just sort of weren’t any. So I’d been covering politics – and I ended up migrating into politics, working on campaigns.

And I worked on some pretty prestigious ones. I was a spokesperson on a gubernatorial race, on a Presidential race. They both lost. So it took a while to get where I was. But one thing that I really learned in the process – especially– Oh my gosh – working on the Presidential campaign, where it’s just – 24/7, you are always on. You have to really be ready at a moment’s notice to be out there, to be the public face for the candidate – is that you have to learn how to pace yourself. As an introvert, especially – you have to be very conscious of how you manage your energy. And learning to do that, I think has enabled me to become successful with other things later on.

Matt: That’s great advice, Dorie. And I think that energy is something that introverts struggle with. When they’re having to do – perhaps what we would call “extroverted activities” – now I know that I’m going to get in trouble with you by calling it an extrovert activity, because a lot of the activities around – going out and meeting customers, and speaking from stage – they draw your energy, but there are ways to obviously be better at that. But let’s focus first on the energy element. So do you find when you’re out networking, out doing these things where you’re out speaking in front of people – do you find that that draws away your energy, and how do you manage that?

Dorie: One of the most important things that we can all do as introverts – is to begin to really chart what seems to drain your energy, and what doesn’t. Because I think sometimes that can be surprising. I – for instance, do a lot of public speaking around the release of my books. One year – 2015, which is when my most recent book, Stand Out was released – I did 74 talks that year. So at least one, usually two talks a week. Traveling around the country, around the world. So I was pretty much always on.

But one thing that I discovered – is that perhaps counterintuitively, being onstage and speaking didn’t tire me out at all. That was fine for me. The part that was actually difficult and problematic was the socializing around it. It was when they wanted me to come to the reception the night before, or go to the lunch afterwards. And I had to make small talk with strangers. That part was extremely uncomfortable for me. And so I had to learn to get better at putting boundaries around it, and just explaining to people.

You feel a little awkward, honestly sometimes. But you have to do it. Just saying, “You know what? I’m so sorry, I can’t go to the reception the night before. I need to spend the time preparing.” And even if you’re not literally doing that. Even if – it’s not like you’re reviewing your notes. You do need to prepare in the sense of managing your energy, so that you can really be sufficiently ready to perform when– The next day, when you need to be on.

Matt: I think that’s really important for people to know. That it’s important for us to look inside and understand how our body works, and how we structure ourselves in a way that we can deliver when we need to – as opposed to constantly feeling obligated to do things. And I’m trying to remember a quote. I know, it’s not going to come to me. But it’s like, “I don’t want to come to that party, because I’m worried that I’ll meet people that I’ll then have to engage with and socialize with moving forward.”

I mean, a lot of times people will say that inviting an introvert to a party, they don’t want to mix. It’s not that. It’s that we have to manage our energy, and we shouldn’t feel bad about saying no to people, and saying that we can’t do that. And I loved the way that you framed– “I’m doing this, because I have to prepare.” ‘Cause it’s about you. “It’s not about me, it’s about you. I’ve got to prepare, because you want me to deliver.” And I think that’s – that’s a really powerful thing to say.

I want to transition, Dorie – ’cause I mean, you’ve written a lot in The Harvard Business Review, and I know that you were profiled by Kathy Caprino in Forbes. And you speak about introversion a lot. So I really want to just – really open up the camera a little bit and say, what advice would you give to people? Like what do you think are some of the biggest limitations that introverts think they have? And how should they perceive them differently, so that they’re not limitations, maybe they’re strengths?

Dorie: I think back, Matthew – just to an experience that I had, that was extremely liberating for me. This happened a couple of years ago. And I was speaking at a conference, and it was actually in New York where I live. And the night before – sure enough – they had a speaker reception. And I thought, “Oh, I should probably go to that. It’ll be a good thing to go to.” And it was a speaker reception, so I thought, “Okay, it’s going to be a smaller group. I can connect with other people that are interesting, that they’ve invited onto the stage with a message.”

So I went. And as soon as I got there, I realized it was a very uncomfortable situation. It was at this bar. It was incredibly loud. Nobody had name tags, so you didn’t even know who anyone was. You had to just kind of wander up to strangers and say, “Oh, hi, who are you?” And it’s not the kind of mingling that I like. And so I made myself do it. I mean I think like a lot of introverts do, I had the number in my head. I’m like, “Okay, Dorie, you’re going to meet at least three people.”

And so, I made myself go up and say, “Hi,” and have conversations. And I did it. But after maybe 45 minutes being there, I just had this almost bolt of insight. And I realized, “You don’t have to do this.” Like it just was causing me such existential discomfort. That I just thought, “It’s not worth it. I don’t have to.” And so I left and I walked out. And I – and in that moment, I decided, “I’m never going to do that. I’m literally never going to do that again.” And it felt amazing.

And I think that – for me, there’s really two messages that I have for fellow introverts. Number one – you too can do this. You too can decide to never do some certain type of activity that you don’t like. If you don’t want to go to the morning breakfast events that the Chamber of Commerce has, fine. Skip them, you don’t have to do it. But – this is the important corollary that a lot of people miss.

That doesn’t mean you can excuse yourself from all forms of networking. That’s not how it works. You have to find something that replaces it, but is better for you. You can’t opt out, you need to find a variation that is better suited to your temperament. And that’s what I did, and that’s why I started really embracing in earnest – organizing dinner gatherings in New York. ‘Cause that was a much more controlled environment that I could set up in a way that was – I think nice for my guests and nicer for me.

Matt: That’s funny that you say that. I’m remembering a conversation I had with a fellow – well a great friend of mine. I think you’d know him well as well. J. V. Crum III. And he talks to me about – he will never go to somebody else’s party and event. But he loves hosting -because as the host, he feels in control – and he can make small talk with people about whether or not their drinks are full or whether they’re comfortable or whether they– He can introduce people.

I find that’s something I do a lot. I’ll introduce one person to another person, because that’s my way of socializing. So I think everybody’s got to find their strategy. But you’re right. No one has to put themselves in that situation where they feel that it’s super uncomfortable. But we can’t avoid networking all together. It’s finding that balance. So how did you go through the process of finding the balance? I mean, you said, “Okay, I don’t want to go to these events anymore.” How did you go through the thought process of working out what was comfortable for you?”

Dorie: Well one thing that I realized, Matthew, to the point that you made about J. V. Crum, and him wanting to be the host. Is that – I think a lot of times, most people – in general – but certainly most introverts – if we are uncomfortable in an event, if we have a bad time in an event – usually we blame ourselves. And we say, “Oh, everybody else here must be having this amazing time. I’m just an introvert, so I feel uncomfortable. That’s me.”

And the truth is – that may be the case. But even more often, here’s the secret – other people are really bad at hosting events. This was a lightning bolt moment for me. Other people – they just – they don’t put any thought into it. Especially if they’re extroverts – not to stereotype or anything. But they just – okay, they throw people together, and they’re like, “Oh, amazing things will happen.” And that is so untrue. It is fruitless, so often.

You could have the best matched people in the world. You could have entrepreneurs that are able to hatch great business deals. You could have artists that could be doing collaborations. You could have romantic partners that are so fit for each other, they could get married. But if you have 20 people in a room, and you don’t point out who’s who – or you don’t give some context – they literally might be in the same room, and never even meet each other. And that is on the host. Because the host did not prepare sufficiently. They did not create a hospitable environment for people to make connections.

And what I realized is that there’s just an– A dereliction of duty among hosts that actually came to offend me. And so that’s why I wanted to be a host. Because I realized, I could do a lot better. And so I created curated groups of people that had things in common. And – in advance, like about a week in advance, I would send out attendee bios to people. So that they could research people in advance, see who they wanted to connect with, find points of commonality, read their book, listen to their podcast, visit their LinkedIn profile. However much research they wanted to do to feel in control. And I have actually heard from introverts who have come to my events. They’re like, “Thank you. You gave me the tools to be able to have a good time.”

Matt: I love that. I mean, you’ve taken it on yourself to give everybody else a strategy. And you’ve decided that the world didn’t work for you, so you bent it to your will. And I think that’s amazing. Because as people, we tend to always want to play the victim or an effect of these horrible things. And what you did is you said, “No, I’m going to be in the driver’s seat of this. And I am going to decide how that interaction is going to take place.” And for someone like me coming to your party, that would be awesome. ‘Cause now I don’t have to feel like the LinkedIn stalker. You’re giving it to me. I know about you, because Dorie sent me these amazing notes. So yeah, I think that’s a great piece of advice.

And I want to transition now for a second into– I mean, your new book coming out is all around the concept of having a domain expertise, and monetizing that. Now for a lot of introverts, becoming the center of attention, or becoming the person that almost has to share their wealth of knowledge in a– As opposed to just spending one-on-one, and sitting down and saying, “Now Dorie, let me tell you what you can do to be better at this,” it’s, “Here are my amazing strategies, and here’s what you should do to be better at what you do.” Can be quite confronting for a lot of introverts. What advice would you give them around how to do it comfortably and authentically? ‘Cause introverts really care about staying authentic.

Dorie: I think this actually is an area – to The Introvert’s Edge, where introverts – if done right, really can have a substantial advantage. Because one of the things – and I’ve written pieces for The Harvard Business Review about networking for introverts, also one about personal branding for introverts. And one of the points that I make, one of the cases that I make – is that introverts actually are uniquely well equipped to do well in terms of content marketing.

Because especially if you’re somebody who is thoughtful, is knowledgeable – maybe a little less comfortable getting out there and pressing the flesh – you can share your ideas and really provide value to a lot of people, by doing things like blogging or creating podcasts or something like that. That you can do on your own, and then provide to the world, right? And do it on your own timeline, be fully comfortable with it, and then share it.

And the advantage with that is that content creation is really a cornerstone of building trust with your audience. And as your level of trust goes up, what is really interesting – and this a point that I make in my new book, Entrepreneurial You, is that the more an audience trusts you, the less selling you have to do. You basically don’t even have to sell at all.

If they’re like, “Oh Matthew – your stuff is great, I want more of it.” All you have to do is be like, “Hey guys, in case anyone’s interested, I have a new book.” Or, “In case anyone’s interested, I have a new course.” That’s not even marketing, that’s just telling people something. And they’ll be like, “Oh my God, yeah – sign me up.” And it all starts with a yeoman’s work that comes from something that introverts are very good at. Which is taking time by yourself, synthesizing, coming up with a new way of saying it – and then sharing that.

Matt: Thank you for sharing that, Dorie. I think you’re exactly right. I mean, getting content out there that shares your topic matter expertise is 100% necessary. But how do we share us in that? I mean a lot of introverts – and I know for myself, I always had this balance of, “I don’t want to–” And when I first started, I didn’t want to give too much about me. And then I started to discover, that the more of me I gave – the more people really responded to it. ‘Cause they saw themselves in my stories. How do you find – or have you given advice to people on how to be more open, and seen that effect in the real world with other people?

Dorie: Yeah, I think it really is an important point. I mean ultimately, I think that – I come out of the world of political communications. As I mentioned earlier, that’s a hat that I wore in the past. And they’re always – maybe until the current occupant of the Oval Office – there always was a push to have this kind of stentorian communication, right? You had to speak with an authoritative voice, and write in an authoritative way. And that was the voice of the institution to which you aspired.

And so everything was very formal, and frankly very stilted. But as we have gotten more firmly entrenched into the internet era – people are just like – oh, they’re sick of it. They’re absolutely sick of it. And they don’t want to hear that. They want to hear from people that are like real people, like their friends. And so the first rule of course, is – of any good writing – is to try to write like you speak. And that goes for emails too. I think this is really critical.

A lot of times, people have email newsletters – and it’s literally– And I mean, I don’t mean to really criticize, ’cause I started this way as well. ‘Cause you just – you look at what people around you are doing, and you emulate that. ‘Cause you think, “Oh that’s the way to do it.” But I’ve certainly evolved far away from that. But you have an email newsletter. And it’s just like – here’s one section talking about all the exciting speaking engagements that I just had. And here’s a section talking about the exciting new projects I did. And here’s this and this. And it’s just this sort of glossy, self-interested brochure that no one cares about.

And if you can just be a regular person – like you were literally writing an email to a friend, and be just as– Just as casual, just as friendly, just as discursive. That really does draw people in. I mean, you make your point – but you do it in a way that sounds like you. I want it to be so that if a good friend of mine is on my email list, and they get an email from me – I would like the thought process to be, that they’re not even sure if it’s me just emailing them – or if it’s from the official mailing list. Because the tone is the same – and the voice is the same, and the Dorie is the same. That’s what I strive for.

Matt: I think you do that really, really well in your writing style. But I want to transition for a second into this whole video format. I mean, there’s never been really a time when I’ve spoken to you, where I don’t feel uplifted afterwards. I think you have that impact on people. And I’m wondering whether that’s nature or nurture. But I’m also wondering – I don’t articulate quite as well as you do. Or I’m not as confident as you are.

For me, I could see two schools of thought. One is that I go away, and I treat that as a problem – and I go and learn the skills to articulate better, and to structure things in the right way, and to work on being more upbeat and more motivational. Or do I instead go the other direction, and just be me – and share that with the world? What do you suggest there?

Dorie: We have to sorta do a decision tree, right? So the first one is – again – if you’re an introvert, and let’s say you hate webinars. Okay, don’t force yourself to do it, it’s fine. There’s other ways to communicate. You can be a podcast guy, you can be a blogger, whatever it is. You don’t necessarily have to do video if you really despise it. But if you like it reasonably well, it’s just a question of how good you are or how good you feel you are.

I will say first of all – I know I’ve gotten a lot better on webinars than I – than when I started. When my first book came out, Reinventing You, in 2013 – that year, I did more than 50 webinars. It was just an immersion into the world of webinars. So I got a lot of practice. In the last year and a half or so – I’ve launched an online course that I have called “Recognized Expert.” I – for that, do these sessions, these 90-minute sessions.

For other online courses I’ve done, I’ve literally done three hour blocks that are live webinars. I mean, you have to keep people’s attention on video for three hours. So that level of practice forces you to get better at it. But I certainly am a lot better than when I started. So I think – just feeling free to understand, You know what? You’re not as good today as you’re going to be six months from now. It’s okay. That’s – that for me is the most important thing to keep in mind.

Matt: Dorie, thank you so much for sharing so much valuable information. I mean, you’re continuously writing great information that helps introverts. And if people want to find out more about you and the things that you’re doing, how would you suggest people try and get in contact with you or find out more?

Dorie: Yeah, if folks are interested – I have more than 400 free articles available on my website. Which is dorieclark.com. D-O-R-I-E-C-L-A-R-K.com. And I also have a free resource. It’s the Entrepreneurial You self-assessment. It’s 88 questions – to help you think more entrepreneurially, and also develop new income streams. And anyone can get that for free at dorieclark.com/entrepreneur.

Matt: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for sharing so much great information. And for people that are enjoying this episode, please make sure you check out all the other great episodes at theintrovertsedge.com. And you can check out Dorie’s episode again, at theintrovertsedge.com/dorie.

And if – again, you’re loving this content – please subscribe on iTunes. And make sure you post a review. The more people that post reviews and subscribe, the more people that are introverted that need this content, will get the opportunity to see it. So please do that for me and for your fellow introverts. So I really appreciate everybody watching again today. And thank you so much, and I look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Cheers.

Share This