Table of Contents
- 1. The Introvert’s Edge to Networking by Matthew Polard
- 2. The Powerful Purpose of Introverts: Why the World Needs You to be You by Holley Gerth
- 3. How to Be a Power Connector by Judy Robinett
- 4. Stand Out Networking by Dorie Clark
- 5. Self-Promotion for Introverts by Nancy Ancowitz
- 6. Networking Like a Pro: Turning Contacts into Connections by Ivan Misner & Brian Hilliard
- 7. The Introvert Entrepreneur by Beth Beulow
- 8. An Introvert’s Guide to World Domination by Nick Shelton
At first glance, hearing the terms introvert and networking in the same sentence might sound a bit off-putting. Many (if not most) introverts grimace at the thought of attending a loud, crowded networking event. And although changes due to the 2020 pandemic might have caused a big drop in the number of large gatherings, networking is still a huge part of a business’ success.
However, for those of us who identify with the preference for a quieter life, the thought of networking evokes similar anxieties and self-doubts as the thought of sales and marketing. We wonder how (or if) we can really succeed at an activity that, at first glance, looks like it’s tailor-made to cater toward the strengths of extroverts.
Don’t you need to be gregarious, energetic, charming, and quick-witted to be a great networker?
How am I supposed to make meaningful connections in such a short amount of time?
What if I get stuck and don’t know what to say?
Consequently, we find ourselves doubling down on and perfecting our ‘functional skill’, where we feel comfortable, confident, and secure. We hope that through sheer hard work and dedication, we’ll come across the right connections and that people will be able to see the value in what we do.
But here’s the hard truth: if we can’t connect with people in a way that clearly articulates our unique value, our voice will be lost in the sea of other coaches, consultants, accountants, marketing specialists, or whatever other commodity boxes we’ve put ourselves in.
Fortunately, there is good news! Networking doesn’t have to be an intimidating obstacle that we know we should make time for (but avoid at every turn).
In fact, introverts can dominate the networking scene.
The below books were all written by introverts, for introverts, to show you exactly how it’s been done (and how you can do it too)!
If you’ve given up on networking, this extraordinary guide will renew your faith. With Matthew’s step by step guidance, you’ll cultivate meaningful relationships with the most powerful people in any room.
“For introverts, effective networking doesn’t look like traditional networking at all.
In fact, what I’ve learned…is that introverts have a natural edge when it comes to the way networking should really be done – not playing a numbers game and talking to as many people as possible but by being strategic, being prepared, practicing, and knowing how to cultivate deeper relationships with just a few of exactly the right people in the room.
In other ways, by playing a totally different game.” -Matthew Pollard
Matthew offers an approach to networking based on introverts’ strengths. He never asks you to be inauthentic, salesy, or learn sneaky tactics to ‘pitch’ yourself. As an introvert himself who’s built his success from the ground up (and one who’s managed to get connected to some of the biggest names from a myriad of industries), Matthew walks the talk and shows you exactly how to authentically make lasting, impactful connections in any space.
And if sales and marketing is also an area where you’d like some guidance, you might consider checking out Matthew’s first best-selling book, The Introvert’s Edge: How the Quiet and Shy Can Outsell Anyone.
Although on the surface, this book might appear out of place on a list of best books for networking, it’s here for a very important reason: you need to know, love, and appreciate yourself before you can sell yourself.
“Growth happens not by changing who we are but by learning how to move away from struggles and toward our strengths.” -Holley Gerth
Throughout her book, Holley compels us to see ourselves in a new light: one where we understand not only why we think, act and feel differently, but also how we can use this difference in a powerful, purposeful way.
We were made to appreciate silent moments, slow conversations, and thoughtful reflections for a reason. Who we are has everything to do with how we can succeed and set ourselves apart. With activities designed to help you understand your purpose, your strengths, and exactly the mark you want to make on the world, this book is a perfect place to start to create clarity, confidence, and connection.
Although now you might know Judy Robinett as one of the most connected people in the world, she certainly didn’t start out that way. In her charmingly relatable voice, Judy shares her inspiring story on how she went from completely unconnected to cornering the market on being a ‘power connector’ – a story that gives her strategies instant credibility and authority that will make you believe anything is possible.
“I believe that the mindset most people have about developing business relationships is what gives networking its bad reputation. People accumulate contacts but reach out only when they need something…You need to build your relationships early, and you need to base them on the same criteria as every other relationship: respect, mutual values, and a desire to benefit all parties.” -Judy Robinett
We often put ‘networking’ in a category all its own and leave our natural skills for developing authentic connections (like listening, asking questions, being observant, etc.) at the door. Judy reminds us that great business relationships are created much the same way that great friendships are created: by being a genuinely kind, helpful person. Don’t underestimate the power of simply being a ‘good person’.
What makes someone ‘stand out’ in a networking crowd? In a world saturated with distractions, disappointments, and divisiveness, a real and compassionate person makes more than just a great friend – she makes a great networker. When you can see and feel someone’s warmth and genuineness simply by interacting with them – whether that’s through a phone call, social media post, or in-person event – you take notice. And this is exactly the kind of networking strategy proposed by Dorie.
“Rightly understood, networking is a way of living your life with integrity, helping others, and benefiting in proportion to the amount you do and the way you navigate the world. People want to help others who are kind and helpful. That’s not a gimmick; it’s a calling to be our best selves.” -Dorie Clark
Throughout her book, Dorie shares engaging stories and real-world actionable tips to build your connections intentionally, over time. Her strategies provide you with a framework for not only building yourself professionally but personally as well!
From the start, Nancy speaks with a sense of relatability and understanding that feels very comforting to introverts who have struggled to use their quiet strengths in networking situations. She also addresses an often overlooked, yet absolutely essential piece to networking success: learning how to turn off self-criticism and tune in to self-love. With prompts to pause for self-reflection and journaling exercises, Nancy shows you exactly how to shed your insecurities and sharpen your strengths for maximum success.
“I believe that you’re gifted…however, if you persistently focus on your deficits rather than your gifts, you become your own jail keeper. If you keep your gifts a secret, ask yourself this: How can others benefit from them? And what are the chances that you’ll get the recognition and compensation you deserve?” -Nancy Ancowitz
This book will help you deepen your appreciation for yourself and will give you the belief and confidence to pursue your goals, all while honoring who you are and what you have to offer to the world.
Would it surprise you to know that the founder of Business Network International – the world’s largest business referral network – is an introvert? While most networking organizations focus on quick introductions and fast-paced exchanges, BNI (founded by Dr. Ivan Misner) takes a different approach.
Built on the belief that quality is more significant than quantity, BNI’s mission statement reflects this more thoughtful approach by encouraging members to ‘develop long-term, meaningful relationships’ in order to build a prospering and purposeful network.
“It’s not the number of contacts you make that’s important; it’s the ones you turn into lasting relationships.” – Dr. Ivan Misner & Brian Hilliard
With a focus on building meaningful connections over the long-term (as opposed to trying to get ‘quick-wins’ or ‘make a sale’ at every networking event), you’ll find these strategies encouraging, refreshing, and just plain reasonable. By the end of this book, you’ll have an exact roadmap on how to go from no contacts at all to truly knowing how to network like a pro.
In a world where extroversion and securing a ‘safe’ 9-5 job are highly valued, being both an introvert and an entrepreneur puts you in quite a unique position. Not surprisingly then, you need someone who understands the challenges and opportunities to be found in both. Beth provides a perfectly balanced framework for you to not only grow in your appreciation for your personality type, but to also learn how to show up and network as your most authentic and confident self.
“The Introvert Entrepreneur directly takes on the mistaken but prevailing assumption that entrepreneurial success belongs to extroverts. This book shares the stories and lessons from introverts who have chosen to defy that assumption, built successful businesses and created a way of life that honors their natural energy. Rather than seeing introversion as a liability, this book provides a road map for entrepreneurs who want to cultivate and amplify their natural, internal strengths.” -Beth Buelow
In true introvert fashion, Beth also encourages you to reflect at the end of each chapter on what you’ve learned and how you can use this information to move forward. Knowledge without action simply won’t work, especially for those who have chosen the entrepreneurial journey. However, with Beth’s guidance and support, you can ensure a much safer and more enjoyable road ahead!
We often think of networking as a purely professional endeavor or occurring only during business-related events. But real networking can happen anytime, anywhere. With a fresh perspective and enthusiastic voice, Nick cleverly shows us how to turn any interaction into a networking opportunity and encourages us to show up, be real, make friends and even have fun while networking!
“I help people all the time, and people help me, but I don’t meet them and try to use them for something. I meet them to connect. If I like them and they like me, we become friends, and friends help friends. If you see a way you can help your friend, you help them out, right?” – Nick Shelton
Filled with personal stories and unique networking scenarios, you’ll find Nick’s real-world strategies energizing and engaging the whole way through!
While each of these books offers a slightly different perspective and approach to networking, they all have one thing in common: a focus on building authentic, meaningful relationships. It’s the ultimate comeback for people who say that introverts are ‘antisocial’, ‘unfriendly’, or ‘don’t like people’.
Related: Best Books for Introverts
In fact, the authors’ voices collectively proclaim a much different message. They show that introverts want real connections with real people and that what we want most is to be helpful, to give value, and to use our gifts to encourage and support others. With that perspective in mind, networking isn’t scary at all. Instead, it becomes a vehicle of opportunity where our gifts meet others’ needs and vice versa. Now, let’s get connecting!