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Gael Spivak

Networking, Introverts and Squirrels

Networking, introverts and squirrels

I used to think I didn’t like networking because I detest small talk and won’t walk into a room of people all by myself.

Networking, introverts and squirrels
Evgenii Naumov ©

But a few conversations and experiences changed my mind.


A friend told me that I’m one of the best networkers she knows. This caught my attention, especially since this friend is quite extroverted. I asked her what she meant.

She told me that I am always helping people and connecting people. That networking isn’t about being talkative but knowing people and things, and then connecting them.

I also went to Riça Night’s 2010 conference session on networking. She taught us that networking is about what we can give to each other rather than what we can get. I realized that’s what I’d been doing all along.


Networking doesn’t even have to be in person. Social media has been great for introverts who like to think before they speak or don’t want to always chat with colleagues in a noisy social gathering.

It’s easy to break into editing communities online if you have useful information to offer people. Editors will start to recognize your name if you help them on certain topics. In my editing communities, I’m known for certain topics: plain language, the singular they, Government of Canada style and squirrels. I know a lot about squirrels.


I’ve met so many people and learned so much from volunteering with Editors Canada. I talk about the professional development value of volunteering a lot because I’ve noticed what it has done for me, personally and in terms of my career. I’ve noticed a big difference in my skillset, my approach to people, and my overall feelings about socializing. And I got my current in-house job, in part, because of my volunteer work.

Most people learn more by doing a task than by studying how to do it. Volunteering gives you a chance to work on a team and add or strengthen a skill. And it allows you to meet lots of people and get name recognition, nationally or internationally.

Give and take

Don’t hoard your stash like squirrels do. It’s better to share.

Networking is about give and take. You give some information, you give some time, you give some kindness… and in return, you become part of a community and people think of you when they need someone with your skills. And we can all do that, including introverts.

What networking techniques work for you?


Previous post from Gael Spivak: Client Relationships for the In-house Editor

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4 Comments on “Networking, Introverts and Squirrels”

  • Thanks for this, Gael! As a fellow introvert, I certainly relate. This perspective on networking is very helpful.

  • Lysane Jacques


    Thanks for sharing this. I’m more of the introvert type and networking is usually difficult for me. Now I’ll be able to see it differently.

  • Michele Litster


    “Most people learn more by doing a task than by studying how to do it.” A great reminder for introverts like me who can get stuck on preparing — never feeling truly ready — rather than just jumping into the fray!

  • Lucy Payette


    Thank you for describing what true networking is about, Gael. Your words will be with me next time I walk into a room full of people by myself!

    A former colleague once shared a book with me: Marcia Ballinger’s “The 20-Minute Networking Meeting.” It echoes some of what you wrote in your post and provides some structure (and relief) to the business of networking. It really works!

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