Hanna Ostapska • Posted: June 7, 2019
This post is continued from Part 1: A toolkit of survival strategies for the introverted scientist at the podium
Does hearing the phrase ‘networking event’ increase your anxiety levels? Are you discouraged from attending an event despite wanting to meet potential collaborators or to discuss your research with the keynote speaker? This is a common struggle among the introverted population and stems from how the introvert has been influenced by cultural upbringing to frame the opportunity.
For all the brave introverts, in this blog I have prepared a toolkit of strategies for you that I have discovered in workshops, books and interviews on my quest to overcome the paralyzing fear of networking.
One of the greatest cultural misconceptions is that the introverted personality lacks the social skills of an extroverted personality. This idea is described by Susan Cain in her New York Times bestseller: Quiet, the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking. She explains that introverts, like extroverts, are social but in a different way that largely depends on their ‘need for intimacy.’ The introverted personality has a preference for smaller intimate gatherings that facilitate conversation with a few people whereas the extroverted one thrives as the life of a party, devoting time to making more contacts of lower intimacy. The important distinction that the author makes is that the number of peers that you have does not correlate to how good of a peer you are. Therefore, building effective networks is independent of the introvert-extrovert personality type.
I recently realized how easy it is for an introvert to undersell themselves when I attended a networking event at the Canadian Glycomics Symposium. I took the brave introvert approach and made the effort to attend with the intention of introducing myself to at least a few individuals that I haven’t met before. To my surprise one of those individuals described me as social. I took a moment to think about that compliment and that was when I realized that I was enthusiastically making contact with those around me because I was genuinely interested in meeting them. It was this moment that helped me to finally ditch the “I’m not good at socializing, what is wrong with me?” attitude.
Below is a toolkit of networking strategies that I encourage you to bring with you to your next networking event.
With this blog post, I hope that I have convinced you that the introverted personality can form a network of meaningful relationships. If you are interested in reading more on this series follow the link for strategies on how an introvert can enjoy owning the stage at the podium.
Hanna Ostapska is a PhD candidate mentored by Dr. Don Sheppard in the microbiology and immunology department at McGill University. Hanna has served two terms as co-Communications officer on the GlycoNet Trainee Association Executive Committee from 2017-2019.
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