By Derrick Van Mell
ATD-MAC’s “Speed Networking” last fall got me thinking about new ways to network. There are in fact a lot of introverts quietly writing about it.
Research says introverts are the minority, but I don’t buy it. It’s just that extraverts naturally draw more attention, and they’re the ones who organize open networking events--and then get surprised when half the people don’t mingle.
Several years ago, prompted by Susan Cain’s great TED talk on introverts (23,000,000 views—this is a minority?), Downtown Madison Rotary created “Rotary LinkUp,” structured networking with a quick round robin of introductions, two discussion topics and a stopwatch (video). Not too different from the Speed Networking event ATD-MAC held last fall.
There’s another structured form of networking, designed by and for introverts, called the “Circle of Six.”
Years ago a friend told me, "Your career will depend on the support of six people. The trick is finding those six". Here’s the podcast, but the gist is you can move your career along just as well by getting to know six people really well as by having a loose network of 100. The key is to give the small group structure and a purpose.
The Circle of Six I’m in isn’t based on lead-sharing, golf or some vague faith we’ll eventually help each other. We actually accomplish something: organizing CEO roundtable “intensives” in Madison and Milwaukee, which are still going strong. But we started with four people who felt they could help each other in a substantial way, not just who liked hanging out. It took a year of meeting monthly (with an agenda of course) to really get to know each other and to fill in our six, but “networking” became productive and enjoyable—and recognized and supported by our firms.
Let me know: How do other ATD members build networks that doesn’t require faking an interest in sports and drinking wine from a plastic glass?
Disclaimer: ATD-MAC is proud to have a blog that features local ATD-MAC members as authors and contributors. We’d like you to know that the views and opinions expressed in this article or by any author/contributor in publications outside of this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ATD or ATD-MAC.