To the surprise of few who know me relatively well, I’m something of an introvert. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy social interaction, but instead that I find it requires energy from me, as opposed to extroverts who (usually) tend to get energy from social interaction. As such, networking was something that I tended to avoid early in my career, at least as a discrete activity. Over time, I’ve discovered why it’s valuable for me, and I’d like to share that with you.
Part of my particular brand of introversion includes a lot of introspection, and about 9 years ago I started thinking about motivation. This was brought on by finding myself in my first leadership role, and trying to figure out what was driving the folks working with me really prompted me to consider that question for myself. After a lot of time and consideration, I came to the following conclusions:
There are two primary motivators in my life: Helping others, and curiousity.
Around the same time I realized this, I started volunteering with BSides St. John’s, a local cybersecurity conference. I was asked to work on the registration desk, which meant interacting with pretty much every single person attending, which at the time pushed me out of my comfort zone. It also provided me an opportunity to start connecting with a lot of people in the IT industry in general, and the security industry in particular. This was immensely satisfying for one of my motivators – curiousity. Because of my involvement with BSides St. John’s, I’ve learned so many things that I might not have even had exposure to otherwise, which feeds my curiousity to no end. However, at least at first, it didn’t seem to be doing much for my other motivator: helping others.
What I’ve come to realize in the last few years, is that the various networking I’ve done DOES actually help me help others. By meeting people, getting to know them and what they need, I can help make introductions that might not otherwise happen. This helps both parties (hopefully!), and checks the “helping others” box for me too. I’m incredibly grateful for all of my friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and other types of connections, because they help me fulfill what I see as my purpose in this world.
Do you love/hate networking? Why?