We often talk about the value of networking with others, but do we really do it? Depending on our personal preferences, we may tend towards being a certain type of networker. While certain types of people may look like they excel more on the networking front, to be honest, it takes a lot of personalities to make the networking system work. Every style could use a little more polish, and networking isn’t just for the extroverts in life. While talking to strangers may not be your vibe, there are ways to use your networking style to your advantage. But find out what type of networker you are.

Networking Types

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, and there are some nuances that you could add, you can generally find the type that you are closest to and work from there. It’s helpful to know your gifts, as well as your blind spots when it comes to making work connections and furthering your sphere of influence.

1. Spectator

You like to hang back and watch what’s happening. Your preference is to not get involved. As a result, your network could be small. Sometimes, to increase your personal comfort levels in the networking process, you can just remember to follow up with people over email or via social media. If the large group setting is a drag for you, then invite people out to get coffee in a one-on-one setting or in a small, socially distanced group. Keep an eye on what matches your personality and style and go from there.

2. Responder

While you like to make new connections, your comfort level is higher when someone else is leading the conversation. When there’s a lull in the conversation, finding new topics is a little more challenging. However, you are responsive to other people’s feelings and conversation plans. Your approach is subtle and can be effective, but it could be time to up your game and flex your network muscles a little more. As you get more comfortable, you can reach out to more contacts. The beauty is that you don’t usually come on too strong, so people won’t be avoiding you or thinking you’re a nuisance.

3. Activator

You are the one who likes to get the party started. You look for networking opportunities and actively find ways to make them happen. Whether the end result benefits you or someone else, you like to initiate connections and conversations. When jobs take a left turn, your network likes to reach out to you. When you look at your network, keep things like geography, industry, function, gender, and age in mind so that you can differentiate your reach. The more diversity you have, the better your reach and value. Don’t try to over pursue people – you might scare them away.

4. Leader

You probably tend to be strategic in all things, and that includes networking. While you may not be the life of the party, you are methodical and consistent in your networking approach. When you have opportunities to get involved in organizations, you do it. Careful with appearing insincere. Networking isn’t about checking boxes, but rather about personal growth for you and others. Sometimes, it’s okay to go a little bit farther than the surface with your connections. People want to feel valued for who they are, rather than for what they can do for you. It’s okay to keep your timing and frequency in check with conversations – you are only one person. But make sure to regularly assess your levels of genuineness in the process.

Networking matters for Career Growth

We all know that networking can lead to more career success. But now may be a good time to make sure that you’re not only doing it, but doing it well. Don’t underestimate the power of good relationships in your professional life. But just like your personal life, you have to nurture and build the relationships in order for them to grow and be beneficial.

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Jillian Hamilton has worked in a variety of Program Management roles for multiple Federal Government contractors. She has helped manage projects in training and IT. She received her Bachelors degree in Business with an emphasis in Marketing from Penn State University and her MBA from the University of Phoenix.