About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

#87 - Networking for People Who Hate Networking

Networking for People Who Hate Networking: A Field Guide for Introverts, the Overwhelmed, and the Underconnected, by Devora Zack (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2010)

Jacket Summary: "Would you rather get a root canal than schmooze with a bunch of strangers? Does the phrase 'working a room' make you want to retreat to yours? Is small talk a big problem? Devora Zack used to be just like you -- in fact, she still is. Yet she's also a successful consultant who addresses thousands of people each year, and she didn't change her personality to do it. Quite the contrary.

"Zack politely examines and then smashes to tiny fragments the 'dusty old rules' of standard networking advice. You don't have to become a backslapping extrovert or even learn how to fake it. Incredible as it seems, the very traits that make you hate networking can be harnessed to forge an approach even more effective than traditional techniques. It's a different kind of networking -- and it works.

"Networking enables you to accomplish the goals that are most important to you. But you can't adopt a style that isn't true to who you are. 'I have never met a person who did not benefit tremendously from learning how to network -- on his or her own terms,' Zack writes. 'You do not succeed by denying your natural temperament; you succeed by working with your strengths.'"

Table of Contents:
  • Introduction: This Book Is Required Reading
  • 1: Welcome to Your Field Guide
  • 2: Assess Yourself
  • 3: The Destruction of Stereotypes
  • 4: Why We Hate to Network
  • 5: Sparkling New Rules That Work
  • 6: Networking Event Survival Kit
  • 7: Good-bye Golden Rule
  • 8: Networking Without a Net
  • 9: The Job Search
  • 10: Business Travel
  • 11: Creating Events That Work for All
  • 12: Defining Outcomes, Achieving Goals
  • Conclusion: See Ya Later, Alligator
My Take: Far better than the last 2 self-helpish books I read. Admittedly, I appreciate anyone who says straight-up in print that introversion isn't a disorder, and can in fact be an asset if you learn to work with and not against it. Personally, I guess I'm what Zack calls a centrovert. Every time I take the MBTI (hey, with an undergrad degree in psychology, a grad degree in labor relations, a career in higher ed, and volunteer experience in human services that predates all 3, I've lost count by now), I land just this side of the I/E line -- but after growing up the only I in a family of diehard Es, that's enough to make it feel like home. (Hey, I copped to being a sucker for underdogs long ago.)

All right, enough about my navel. Zack, who herself identifies as a pretty strong introvert, summarizes the key distinctions between introverts and extroverts in a manner that's clearer and more succinct than I've heard in a while: Introverts think to talk; go deep; and energize alone; while extroverts talk to think; go wide; and energize with others. By harnessing their reflective, focused, and self-reliant qualities, she argues, introverts can indeed be stellar networkers -- it's just that their success looks a bit different on its face than the extrovert model to which we've become accustomed. Specifically, successful networking for denizens of Introville (I'm not a fan of the cutesie Introville and Extroland metaphors myself, but hey) entails the following steps:
  1. Pause before initiating interactions. "Introverts do well by strategizing an approach, researching options, and clarifying goals in advance of taking action."
  2. Process a situation and focus on a few individuals before diving in -- the end result being, you expend less energy, and get better results.
  3. Pace yourself. In Zack's words, "Create meaningful, real connections. Retreat to recharge. Repeat."
The majority of the book simply expands on these three rules, with interesting ideas on making the most of the "meaningful, real connections" at which the focused, reflective introvert excels (send an email or an old-fashioned snail mail note to follow up! It seems so obvious ... ); structuring networking events and your own participation to make this easier; understanding how the other half (i.e., Es if you're an I, and vice-versa) lives; and applying these techniques to job hunting and business travel. This may all be specific enough to who I am and what's on my plate right now that whether or not I'd recommend it to someone else is beside the point ... but I do know I'll be reading it again at least once before it's due back.

No comments:

Post a Comment