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My youngest child Betsie is one of those loud-at-home-but-very-shy-anywhere-else kids. It takes an enormous amount of encouragement to get her to talk to adults that ask her about school or how old she is or what she wants for Christmas. I once offered her money if she ordered her own food at a restaurant. (Bingo! Encouragement that works!) I expect Betsie to grow in her social skills as she gets older, and I have already seen growth in this area, and yet I expect she will always be a little quiet with new people.

A few months ago, I came across an article that a friend shared on Facebook about introverts. I was fascinated because I felt like I was reading an article about myself and Betsie. (And my oldest child Rachel too) I’m not rude, but small talk can be kind of exhausting if it’s not going anywhere. I like to be alone, but I also love to spend time with people in small groups. I am not a thrill seeker or the life of the party, but I enjoy meaningful relationships and conversations. Introverts love to talk. We just talk a lot to a few special people instead of to everyone we run into at the grocery store.

As an introvert, I think it is so cool to live in the age of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and the THRIVEal Yammer group allow me to take my time and think before I speak. In a real life group setting, I may miss the moment to add my two cents because I am not as quick to speak up as my extroverted friends. But social media allows me to participate on my own terms and in my own time, just as fully as anyone else. I can ignore the conversations that aren’t interesting or relevant to me, and I can jump into the ones that I enjoy.

I started participating in online forums back in 2000. Back then I was a newish mom and found some forums dealing with family issues and then eventually homeschooling. A little later I started a blog. (I’ve had a few over the years.) I slacked off on my blog once I joined Facebook. And over the last year and a half, I have been using social media for THRIVEal and Blumer & Associates, CPAs. One point that I have found particularly interesting about relationships developed via social media is that so much of the small talk can happen there. Then when I see my friends from Facebook or Twitter in real life, the relationship is easier and comes more naturally because we already know a little about each other. In other words, I have found social media is a tool to aid in building face to face relationships.

Fellow introverts, I want to let you know once and for all, your personality type is NOT a weakness. But you may want to make some adjustments in your networking strategy. If traditional networking events are torture, make connections online first or go with a friend. Or skip traditional networking altogether. Extroverts, if you have introverts on your team or in your customers base, try connecting with them in new ways. And for crying out loud, do not limit their use of social media in the workplace. You may be taking away one of their greatest tools.

Oh, and by the way, you can connect with me on twitter at @jenniferblumer.

Networking, Social Media
  • On 03-15-2012 at 11:48 am, Kevin McCoy said:

    Thanks for sharing that article, Jennifer I’m exactly the same way, and I see it in my son a little bit. Constantly labeled as “quiet” and “shy” growing up, but I sometimes just find small talk annoying. I am not a fan of large groups and having to fight to get a word in, but I have no problem talking to a few people in a small group or one-on-one. I have been called rude before and it really stung…only later did I wish I would have said something like “well wasn’t it rude of XX just to talk the whole time and never ask my opinion or give me a chance”.

    Handling networking has been a struggle but lately I try to simply focus on meeting a few people and talking to them longer than trying to meet everyone and just toss them my business card.

  • Jennifer Blumer

    On 03-15-2012 at 12:37 pm, Jennifer said:

    Thanks Kevin! Did you read that first article I linked to? It was so much like me it was scary! I think as so many of you in THRIVEal focus on building relationships with clients, coworkers, and even within our THRIVEal community, it’s going to be helpful to understand appreciate different types of personalities and the strengths they offer. There are people that I have thought rude before too, but now I am wondering if maybe they just need time to feel comfortable. I definitely want to assume the best and give folks the benefit of the doubt!

  • Jason Blumer

    On 03-17-2012 at 7:33 pm, Jason M Blumer, CPA said:

    This was a great article. I remember when we found out that social media was a great outlet for you to grow and prosper. You have grown so much in social media and have met some really cool people you otherwise would probably have never met. Proud of you for sharing what you’ve learned.

  • Melinda Guillemette

    On 03-27-2012 at 10:44 am, Melinda Guillemette said:

    Great thinking, Jennifer. Let me just say, though, that even for extroverts, most networking is excruciating. I know of one — only one — CPA who truly loved “working a room.” I’m not a CPA and I am an extrovert, but those events are still painful. You’re right that social media helps introduce us to one another with very little pressure. It’s a good beginning of a relationship, but I guess I’ll always feel that it’s just a beginning. Human contact will always be important, at least to me.


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