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Books, Multimedia, and Meeting Reviews

A Guide to Networking for Introverts: From Ice Breaking to Deal Making

Morrison, Wynne E. MD MBE

Author Information
doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000001913
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“One genuine relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.” Susan Cain

I remember once taking a quiz (something along the lines of “Are You an Introvert?”) that asked if I would feel more comfortable talking to a stranger at a cocktail party or if we were trapped under a collapsed building together trying to escape. I could relate. Of course, situations are never that extreme, but if the thought of having to make small talk fills your heart with terror, the book A Guide to Networking for Introverts: From Ice Breaking to Deal Making will have a few good tips for you.

The book is a short, quick read. It is organized into sections devoted to networking, small talk, and maintaining connections. There is also a section on social networking, perfect for those who have yet to take advantage of such tools for promoting an agenda. The advice is straightforward, and the examples are mostly interesting. The author’s points are repeated several times throughout the book, as she tends to offer the same guidance, applied in different situations. She talks through how to handle arriving at an event in which you know no one else, describes a range of networking opportunities available to those in business and how to approach each one, discusses how to create your own “30-second commercial” describing what you do, describes how to follow up with contacts without being overbearing, and offers many real-world examples of how networking has helped her in the past (and how she has helped others).

Although easy to read and practical, the book is not very data driven. The reader may leave with a few good final points but little practical guidance or exercises to stretch those networking talents. For a more in-depth and research-focused exploration of the topic of introverts, look for Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain,1 in which she argues for the essential role introverts have to play in keeping any organization functioning. For those who wish to truly go further into personal interaction styles, the DiSC profile (https://www.discprofile.com/what-is-disc/overview/) or the Meyers-Briggs Type Inventory (http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/) might be more useful. And, as much as introverts hate to admit it, most would find it beneficial to do these sorts of exercises in a group or workshop setting rather than by merely curling up with an easily digested book.

Ms. Mon’s book is targeted predominantly at a corporate audience, but much of the advice would also be relevant to those in medical practice or academics. As an academic physician, you might not use the Chamber of Commerce as a resource, but you still need to be able to communicate with others about your clinical work, your research, or job opportunities. Having examples of how one can be a “salesperson” without being annoyingly self-serving are useful. The advice on surviving small talk can apply in almost any situation, from the office holiday party to the gathering of parents on the sidelines of the soccer game. Although it may not have been the primary focus of the book, I was most fascinated by Ms. Mon’s description of herself as a “Corporate Storyteller.” She markets herself as someone who can help individuals in any business hone their ability to tell their own stories to effectively communicate about their product or goals. The human connection that such storytelling can provide may become a more and more powerful tool in our digital age where interactions can be simultaneously constant and superficial.

The heart of the book can be summarized in the simple idea that everyone has a story. You have a story to tell about why you do the work you do, what you are hoping to accomplish, and what would help you get there. In addition, your personal story will help you connect with those you are hoping to influence. Communicating about what you do or what you need is not taking advantage of others: networking is as much a tool for helping others as for helping yourself. And to every dedicated introvert out there, next time you find yourself wishing you were curled up with a book instead of attending an obligatory cocktail party or networking event, remind yourself that the person across from you has a story every bit as interesting as the book you would have been enjoying. Awaken your curiosity. Find out something about that other person. You may be surprised to discover that getting to know that other person might help you, might enable you to help others, and at the very least might be a little interesting.

Wynne E. Morrison, MD MBE
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care
Perelman School of Medicine at the
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
[email protected]

REFERENCES

1. Cain S. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. 2012.New York, NY: Random House, Inc,
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