Networking for Introverts 101

Networking for Introverts 101

There are many myths about us introverts raging from that we are anti-social to that we can fix being an introvert ourselves. Of course non- are true, but you already knew that since you are probably introverted yourself. Still from time to time; we might want to get out our comfort zone in networking environments, particularly those of us with high career ambitions. We can grow our network without changing our nature by approaching things differently and use our strengths at our advantage. The strongest one being that we actually tend to listen to people’ instead of just blabbing out endlessly like some clueless extroverted people that don’t realize they are being annoying. This post will discuss networking for introverts in two social settings. In a networking event or mixers which may consist of large groups of people and on 1-on-1 situations where we excel.

Everything important has already been said in the past by the great thinkers and philosophers. Habits are the corner stone of everything of importance you want to do in life. That’s why everything that follows is designed to be implemented as some form of habit formation and using systems to adquire those habits. Below there is video from on entrepreneur.com that clearly explains why systems and habits are way more important than goals. The video will give a better understanding of why you should focus primarily on your everyday habits over setting a goal.

Make it official by scheduling time

Only 8% of Americans achieve their New Year resolutions. The problem might be that the majority of people have limited willpower. There is a significant amount of research finding that willpower is limited. Change is hard and the way to make it less painful is by making small changes that increment over time using automated systems. This has been proposed by BJ Fogg of Stanford University. Using all this research as pillars, we can build a framework to start developing all the social skills needed to interact with people. The most important thing is to start with small goals. Don’t expect to be the life of a party in one month (not that you want to) if all your life you have been uncomfortable with talking to strangers and the only way you could do it was by playing videogames in your basement. Start changing by scheduling time that will go towards activities that relate to your social goals. Use a calender to plan your activities on a weekly basis. I use google calender myself for it’s automatic reminders that I need to complete my scheduled tasks.

Building a habit of socializing in mixers

By starting with small goals and scheduling time you will actually be starting the process of building socializing habits.

The definition of a habit is a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.

To re frame in another context habits are part of your personality and this is why only a small group of people are able to achieve their goals, because in other to accomplish a goal we need to develop a series of new habits which in turn requires us to change our personalities. Whoa.

This is why we cannot change overnight and it requires a lot of practice and patience. Sounds like a lot of work? It is, but it helps a lot if you keep it small. I’m talking Ant-Man kind of small here people.

I highly recommend using meetup.com to get the ball rolling to search for groups that you share similar interest. Make sure to sign on for a group that meets at least once a month minimum. In the first meeting talk to at least one person by your own initiative use the following template questions for starters. These questions are guaranteed to at minimum; make a 15 minute conversation, because it will inevitably lead to other questions. I have done this countless times and I end up always talking more than 15 minutes in worst case scenarios when I find the other person is on a non-chatty mood. Never approach anybody eating. Trust me I know.

  • Hi my name is______. What yours?

  • Have you been to this meetup before?

  • Have you been to other meetups like these? How those this compare to the others?

  • Are you from around here? If they come from another city follow up with the next question. Otherwise skip it.

  • What brought you here?

  • What do you do?

  • What’s your favorite thing to do when you are not working?

Don’t like the questions? Feel free to make up your own, just be sure to include as many open questions that won’t give you a Yes or No answer. When you ask them remember that things will go easier if you shut up and actually listen. Don’t think about yourself, think about the other person and you may find that their answers could easily lead to other topics of discussion, then you can add more questions of your own to the template questions.

To put it on a mathematical perspective, you should only talk 20% of the time and the other person should talk 80%. If it makes it easier to remember another way to concentrate on the other person rather than yourself is to always act like the host of the party. Of course introverts should have no problem with this. As you get comfortable in these conversations try to make yourself valuable by being of value to the other person by offering genuine compliments, give useful information that might help them on way or another or sharing stories that validate their points of views one way or another.

After you have asked these template questions to different people and you start feeling comfortable with yourself you will start noticing their body language. For example, If you notice their body not looking towards you at any time then make a graceful exit by saying the it was a pleasure to meet them and you will see them around and move on to the next person. Always follow up with people that you meet in mixers, at least with the ones you felt rapport.

Your body language

Your own body language affects any outcome in a group setting. You don’t want to be that person who is always looking at the phone pretending to be busy. You also don’t want to hover around people awkwardly. Always walk in a room with purpose and act as if you were a curious kid. When you enter the room say hi to the closest person on the door and exchange a few words of banter. Banter is a way talk or exchange remarks in a good-humored teasing way. It’s just meaningless conversation and you don’t need a reply. It’s absolutely critical that you smile after saying these lines. After all you are supposed to have fun. Here a few example lines of banter, make it your own so that it feels natural.

  • Hi, this is going to be an awesome party I can feel it.

  • You guys look like the life of the party here.

  • Quit your day job. I’ll double your salary. You can be my bodyguard.

Now this is what you do instead of just looking at your cellphone in a party/mixer. Just walk in the room and say hi to whoever is at the door. If there are drinks served then head straight to just check out where they are at, but don’t take one just yet. Then walk around the room saying your banter lines to whoever makes eye contact with you and next try to find the bathroom. Use it, even if it’s just to look at yourself in the mirror and then head back to get your drink. The purpose of all this is to just get a feel of all the people in the party. By then the majority of people should be aware of your presence and hopefully you would have established yourself as a person who has confidence. Then proceed to talk to one of the people you already said hi to (or a group of people) and work your way around always remembering to act curious about the world around you.

Now I know that for many introverts this may sound scary. However, it’s important not to expect things to go to smoothly the first time. Do it a few times and make an analysis after each mixer to think about what things you made right and what things need more practice. Also if you are being to nervous about the whole situation; it is probably because you are thinking about you, when you should really be focusing on the people and their feelings. Remember, it’s all about them not about you.

Meeting for coffee

There are many times when you may want to meet someone you don’t know in a 1 on 1 basis. Let’s say for example you want to meet a person for a company you would like to work for in the future. Do your research and go to Linkedin and find a few candidates and pick one (or a few) that you feel that you could connect to because of things you have in common. If you are lucky you might find that you already have friends in common either in Linkedin itself or Facebook. If that’s the case then reach out to friends in common to either ask them for an introduction or ask them if they recommend you to reach out to your person of interest yourself.

Now most people include in their profiles their personal websites and social networks, whether that be Twitter or Facebook. Start following them and make interactions with them online first so they can get a feel of who you are. Then you can just send them a very short and to the point e-mail and invite them for coffee to ask them questions about how it’s like to work in their company. Below is an example.

Hi John,

My name is X. Our mutual friend of ours XYZ, recommended me to reach out to you.

(Always mention what you have in common in the first line whether it’s a mutual friend or common interest)

I’d love to get your career advice for 15-20 minutes. I’m currently working at Wayne Enterprises, but lately I have becoming more interested in Lexcorp.

(Go straight to the point)

Do you think I could pick your brain on your job and how you came to Lexcorp? I’d especially love to know what skills are most helpful to handle your day to day activities.

(The phrase pick up your brain is always a compliment, because you acknowledge that they know more than you)

I can meet you for coffee or at your office…or wherever it’s convenient. I can work around you!

Would it be possible for us to meet?

(Make it easy for them, In many cases I suggest a date and time myself that may be convenient for them)

Make sure you have a clear purpose when trying to meet them 1 on 1. Don’t just invite them to talk about your life. As a guideline think of 1 to 5 professional questions (mostly about them) and only at the end ask them to give you some advice related to what your trying to accomplish. After the meeting follow up with other emails explaining how there advice is helping you to achieve your goals. For more in depth details of how to send e-mails check out my free ebook.

Networking for introverts doesn’t need to be a chore if you make it more about really making connections. It’s all about making truthful relationships and not about what you can get from the other person. Remember to always give without expecting anything in return and eventually with time people might help you…maybe, and that should be alright with you.

4 crippling bad habits that are keeping you trapped.

During the week I did some cool activities. One was getting the ball rolling for a short film that I’m hopefully going to direct next year and the other was taking my first class in swing dancing in the Lindy project here in Austin. Those have been both on my to do list for some time and I’m glad the things are moving forward. 10 years ago I could only day dream about having what people call a life. As a matter of fact the only interesting thing I had up until 5 years ago was using a virtual avatar in my Playstation console, not that I’m saying using avatars is bad; as a matter of fact it was fun for a while, but it certainly wasn’t were I was picturing my life going went I went to the New York Film Academy 10 years ago. What happened is the I experienced four crippling situations that slowed my career goals down to a crawl. Most times being risk averse and fear come together in a package, couple them together with trying to figure things out alone and making false assumptions and you have something equal to the four horsemen of the apocalypse against success, here is how I experienced each of them.

Risk Aversion

What happened was that I was scared of taking risks, because I was clinging too much to my comfort zone. I had so many psychological barriers that I made excuse after excuse to not take action. It seems that many people have the same problem. It was not until I made the active decision to move, that things finally started to shake up both externally and mentally. I was like Frodo Baggins dreaming of having adventures, but never getting out of the shire..until chance came. That chance came from a call from my sister. I was already talking about moving to the states from Puerto Rico when she called asking me If I could spend a year with her while her husband did a military tour in Irak. Still I did not answer her immediately.


I was too worried if that was in fact a good idea. What if things with my sister did not worked out? What would happen after one year? What if I had to come back to Puerto Rico? Fear of the unknown was getting out the best of me. In the end I took a leap of faith. I still remember the day I decided to accept the offer. I was tired of working at Sam’s club and my life was going nowhere and I called her back and said I would do it. I figured that I could stay with her for a time and then move to New York.

Making false assumptions

Since I went to the New York Film Academy I thought that the only two cities worth pursuing that career was either Manhattan or Los Angeles. Even when I finally moved to Austin and I had seen the vibrant independent film community as was thinking that the only way to make it in films was to move to either of those places. Because we all make false assumptions. We go on in life having these assumptions and most of the times we don’t test them. Fortunately Austin made me pursue even more taking self development courses and quickly began to receive the guidance that I so desperately needed.

Figuring things out alone

The worst of the horsemen. It was here in Austin that I finally learned to seek people who have done it before. It seems obvious, yet so many of us go through life without seeking mentorship. I enjoy reading good books, however nothing beats sitting down with a person who has done the same thing that you want and giving you tips on how to go about it. Before I just read book after book, blog after blog and I learned a lot with those. Then again, it was having real conversations with peers and mentors that I finally realized that the path I was on and the choices I was making would not lead me to the goal I wanted. The Film industry has changed vastly since I went to film school and I was still operating assuming it was not the case. The moment I realized that my assumptions were incorrect I made it a point not to figure things out on my own.

That was the beginning of many internal changes that I had to go through. One of the many chances I took to get my own geeky better life. Some risks were huge like quitting 3 jobs in two months, others were smaller. However to grow I had to get more out of my comfort zone. Taking risk does not mean betting your life in the outcome of an event without any backup plan. It means gradually taking smaller riskier choices by testing your assumptions first, facing your fears and finding mentorship until you achieve what your goal is.

How introverts can make their own justice league for inspiration.

I’m back after a week vacation in Florida where I got to visit Universal Studios theme park just to see The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! I stayed with my best friends from College and had a blast. Still not everything was fooling around with spells and stuff. There were moments of serious conversations like my need to lose some weight. See in Puerto Rico things are not sugar coated, if friends find that you put in some pounds they will let know. My best friend went into a 3 hour rant about how I’m supposed to look after my health. I just smiled because I was grateful that after all these years my friend still looks after me. Will I lose weight? Well, I promised her I will and now I better deliver if I don’t want to hear her rant next time I visit her.

That’s the type of friends I want to be surrounded with. During my vacation I also separated time to read a good book. Think and grow rich. There is a chapter about surrounding yourself with a mastermind group of people who think just like you, inspire you and challenge you from time to time. My best friend has always challenged me and in no small part I own her my internal desire to adquire a better lifestyle. She is part of my own justice league. A select group of people who inspire me to push my limits.

It’s very important the you find friends and peers that push you to your limits. I’m not advocating for you to leave behind your old friends; unless they are negative people, if that’s the case then you should consider it. What I’m advocating is for you to develop your social skills and reach out to people who are constantly challenging themselves and finding success either in their career, businesses or overall personal goals. It is often quoted that “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” There is some truth to this notion. The laws of association which were formulated by Aristotle 2314 years ago. State that similar outcomes in learning would be determined by contiguity, repetition, attention, pleasure-pain and similarity. If you apply the law of association which your friends you would see the outcome in learning and learning so happens a geeks favorite hobby and sometimes leads to the discovery of great things.

Currently I’m watching the new Cosmos reboot with Neil Degrasse Tyson and with each new episode the features the history of a scientist I find myself fascinated by that fact the many times it took a friend or a mentor to help them leap to their discovery. Like how Isaac Newton’s genius was finally discovered with the help of Edmond Halley. Currently you can observer famous friendships everywhere and can see how they push there limits. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola are best buddies in the film industry. In the start up industry you will find Tim Ferris, Rammit Sethi, Chase Jarvis and Gary Vaynerchuck. “Great minds think alike” is another common quote which I absolutely stand by.

Now take a look around you and see who are within your 5 group of friends and ask yourself if you are being inspired and challenged to get a better lifestyle. I already went ahead and bought an excellent book about the psychology of eating so I can develop better eating habits.

How to do a weekly progress self assessment.

This weeks post is short and sweet and to the point since I am off to the Renaissance faire this weekend! Have you noticed how time has gone flying? Spring is now here and the Summer movies are upon us. Meaning lots of super heroes and things that go boom. Everyone should be in full swing with their goals.

When I read Dale Carnegie’s book how to make friends and influence people; I distinctively remember a story about how the best thing to do achieve success is to take every Sunday and meditate the comings and goings of the week as Bilbo Baggins would say. This stuck with me for some reason and in January 1 of 2011; I began to track what I considered were my achievements of the week. It was meant at first as a way to boost my confidence and later evolved as a critical tool to asses both my successes and my failures with objectivity. Below I show pictures of my excel spreadsheet of my success and failure tracking for 2014.

With this tools I can make decisions of what strategies are working and what aren’t. For example losing more weight has been a challenge among other things. This method of analyzing will show you exactly if you are making progress on the areas you wanted to see a change in your life. I encourage all geeks out there to make you’re own sheet. It does not have to be in excel. You can even write it in paper, but do move forward and try to make notes of you’re weekly activities so you can determine how successful or not you were able to carry them out.


How to build habits like Batman

Many people daydream about being Batman, myself included. When I was a kid I used to fantasize buying something like a black Porsche and modifying to have my own bat mobile. Michael Caine said it perfectly, that what attracts us to Batman is the if you had a zillion dollars you could become the Dark Knight. However, sadly most of us don’t have that kind money lying around. Does that mean we cannot be more like Bruce Wayne? Hell No!

OK, so we won’t have cool gadgets to fight crime anytime soon. However, It was not the gadgets or the money that maid Bruce Wayne a successful hero. It has his methodology, his systems. Think about it, in order do be Batman Bruce Wayne had to do the following routines.

  • Push ups when he wakes up.

  • Fight crime at night

  • Act like he was a playboy when he was not being Batman.

  • Cover his investments in gadgets through his company.

  • Have someone looking out for His company.

And many more…

The pattern here was that he had systems working for him to make his life easier. Think about it. Did Bruce Wayne become Batman over night? Of course not! It took him years of following routines to even consider becoming a superhero. Systems that in the end, were more important than his money and his gadgets. We may not have his billions or his martial arts training, but one thing we can emulate from Bruce Wayne is his use of systems.

Now here in the real world we are not going to become vigilantes. However, we have our own battles to fight. We want to have more friends, more money, travel more often and have a fulfilling career. We can either let life take us where it pleases or take control of what we can and steer it to are ideals as much of possible. Hopefully you are in the camp that wants to take more control of stuff. Taking complete control of our lives like Bruce Wayne means developing routine and systems of our own one baby step at a time. In Batman begins it took seven years for Bruce Wayne to Become Batman so don’t you think for one second we are going to see fast results. It’s a marathon, not sprint and it takes development of tiny habits.

Research done by Prof. BJ Fogg in Stanford University has shown that to develop habits is the same thing like exercises. You start small and then very big. In you hardly exercise it’s better to exercise for 5 minutes than 30. If you want to start saving it’s way more better to save 1% than starting with 20%. Check out BJ Fogg’s video below.

This is powerful stuff. It’s very simple to learn, yet our obsession with fast results keeps us from taking it seriously. Soon those goals that you had keep rolling down from one year to the next., stopping us from growing. The good news is that the faster we understand our own psychology, the faster we can set measurable goals and develop habits that will lead us to success. So what big goals do you guys have in mind that can be broken into tiny habits? What tiny action are you going to take tomorrow to get you closer to that goal?

How introverts can acquire habits like a superhero.

Most superheros are born from change. Usually something happens in their life were they can never be the same person they were once before. This change comes either by accident or choice. I’m a big fan of superheroes. My all time favorites is Batman followed by Superman. I tend to prefer the stories of superheros who change because of their psychology. What we forget is that in real life we are also affected by our psychology and most of the times we hold ourselves back to achieve things we want.

These psychological barriers can be our kryptonite. They can paralyses us in such they that they never let us become something more, something better. These barriers affect us financially and emotionally. Worst of all sometimes we are not aware of these barriers. That’s why reading more information on how to blogs or just simply throwing out that societies problems will be solved by more education are just wrong. The following are examples of barriers that affect our lives.

“I will never lose weight”

“I will never be rich”

“I can’t ask for a promotion”

“I can’t save money”

The first step to overcome these barriers is to recognize that we have them. The second must important thing is to ask ourselves how can we change for better. For example instead of ‘I will never lose weight” we can ask ourselves how can I lose weight. The Third must important aspect is to break down our bigger goal into smaller more easy to accomplish goals. That’s why it’s better to just run for 5 minutes daily than to start by running 20 minutes. The the intent is to adquire a habit that will eventually lead to your biggest goal. It can be as simple as eat two servings of vegetables per day without diet and running for 5 minutes.

An important aspect is to measure and record are daily activities. Do not use will power since according to studies by BJ Fogg our will power is limited and it’s vastly overrated. That is why professionals use a calender and find a way to automate their activities as much as possible. According to Fogg there are 3 factors that affect a habit.

Ability. Are you able to take action? Example If you want to be Batman but you don’t have a zillion dollars like Bruce Wayne then you are not able to be Batman.

Motivation. Are you motivated to take action? An example would be do you even want to be Batman? What if you feel more like being commissioner Gordon?

Triggers. Is there a trigger that will make you take action. An example would be the Bat-Signal. Every time it light up the night sky it automatically pushes Bruce Wayne to don the mask.

Applying these to real life can be very simple and the best part is that it can be applied to anything, even to eliminate bad habits.

Let’s see 2 real life examples.

Example A: Suppose you want to be a writer but find it to scarey or overwelming. The wrong way to go about this is you have never really writted before is to take small steps to get into the habit of writing. So, instead of coming out all mighty and saying to your friends that you are going to write for 2 hours daily only to fumble it after 1 week, consider writing for just 10 minutes come what may.

Do you have the ability to write? Of course you do. Do you have the Motivation to write? Again you are so desperate to write the next Game of Thrones story that you would do anything. Can you implement a trigger? Yes you can just use goggle calender or any to do app to remind you at a specific time that you should write at that moment for a small amount of time. Say 10 minutes. Continue to write whatever for 10 minutes every day until it feels natural and then proceed to increase to 15 minutes.

You can start by putting on your daily schedule to run for just 5 minutes. These sound very brain dead simple, yet how many of you sincerely use an agenda?