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While most of my posts live a short life and retire quietly to the archives, this post from last spring about networking tips for introverts continues to get several hits hits every week, and has been referenced on other blogs. Since there seems to be a lot of interest in this topic, I continue to watch for articles and information that may add to the discussion.

This afternoon I was reviewing the blogs and websites of some of the people who have visited my blog and came across this interesting post on Ron Bland’s blog about how to start a conversation (written by Peter Murphy). Probably the biggest networking challenge for introverts is just trying to get the conversation started, so I thought this article could offer some valuable tips for my readers.

To these tips, I would offer one additional suggestion: Ask open-ended questions.

When you ask open-ended questions, you automatically get the other person talking. Most people enjoy answering thoughtful questions about themselves or topics they are interested in, and they tend to like people who listen to them talk. The other person will often (but not always) turn the table and ask you questions, giving you an opportunity to tell your story. It’s always easier to talk about yourself in response to a question.

When you ask open-ended questions, you also have a chance to listen well (Point #5 from Mr. Bland’s blog post). As you are listening, be alert for ways that you can help the person. You might be able to introduce them to someone who can help them. Or tell them about a related book or article or web site that may interest them. Remember that effective networking is more about giving than receiving.