We all recognize the power of professional connections, but it doesn’t take long in the working world to realize that not all of us like to connect in the same way. Some personality types thrive in dynamic group settings; others forge connections best one on one. Thankfully, there are many networking settings and tactics for all types of personalities—from group workshops and large conferences to intimate happy hours and coffee chats.
Knowing your preferred attitudes—what energizes you and how you structure your life—can clue you into the networking scenarios that won’t over- or underwhelm you. Each of the sixteen Myers-Briggs personality types has a corresponding attitude that influences your social interactions and communication style. It combines the first and last letters of your personality type—introversion or extroversion and judging or perceiving: IJ, IP, EJ, and EP.
Take the official Myers-Briggs test to pinpoint your attitudes, then check out these tips to play to your personality strengths—and push you beyond your professional comfort zone.
I—J attitudes should seek out working groups and one-on-one connections.
ISTJ: Your preference for structure and practicality makes courses or project-based meet-ups ideal for networking. With a specific goal to attain, you won’t be frustrated by casual socializing, and you can show off and apply your knowledge and skills.
ISFJ: Your conscientious spirit and desire for meaningful interactions are ideal for individual conversations about personal career goals or ambitions. Schedule one-on-one or small group gatherings over lunch. When you’re at bigger events, pursue individual conversations.
INFJ: Determined and insightful, you like to reach out to individuals directly for intentional and productive networking. Before a networking event, spend some time researching attendees you want to meet and preparing talking points. Direct your introverted ambition by getting involved with an industry committee.
INTJ: Your independence and originality let you excel in action-focused environments such as contests, workshops, and committees. These settings help you meet like-minded people in your field to collaborate with and learn from.
I—P attitudes should look for intimate discussions and online introductions.
ISTP: Solution-oriented and observant, attending panels or discussions centered on a specific topic are the best networking opportunities for you. You can easily strike up conversations with other attendees about the featured experts or subjects and showcase your analytical mind.
ISFP: Your reserved nature and strong commitment to your values means you can contribute to group conversations at gatherings that allow for casual networking. Connect first digitally over email or social media with potential mentors or peers to ease yourself into introductions.
INFP: Your curiosity and understanding allow you to collaborate well. Pursue small group gatherings for intimate discussions and educational lectures or panels to stimulate your mind while surrounding yourself with like-minded people.
INTP: Inclined toward ideation and in-depth interactions, look for industry-specific online forums where you can actively participate by lending your expertise and unique perspective. Consider organizing your own webinar or social media question-and-answer session to form new contacts.
E—P attitudes should attend conferences and free-flowing group meet-ups.
ESTP: Energetic and spontaneous, you learn best through action. Attend conferences that include working sessions, so you can meet lots of people and be productive, too. You might also enjoy signing up for group competitions, such as Startup Weekend or the MarCom Awards, which will allow you to network while working toward a common and productive goal.
ESFP: Your collaborative and high-spirited temperament means you’re a natural at making new connections in big and small groups. Join professional organizations in your field to build a community, take on leadership roles, or contribute to conference planning. You know how to inspire others to get a job done!
ENFP: Frequent happy hour events where your career passion and liveliness will stand out in a more relaxed setting. Your willingness to support others and your ability to improvise quickly will benefit you in learning environments such as roundtable discussions with lots of idea sharing.
ENTP: With your outgoing and creative traits, you excel most when you can share your ideas and opinions with a variety of people, even those who disagree with you. Pursue casual networking scenes, such as weekday lunches or after-hours drinks, to make a good first impression as you dive into dynamic discussions. Before beginning to debate, remember your tendency to forget to listen, and be sure to practice letting others speak first.
E—J attitudes should speed network at big gatherings or join a committee.
ESTJ: As a natural leader, your decisiveness and efficiency help you excel when organizing groups or initiatives. Take the lead in planning a networking event with a few coworkers or friends to merge and grow your personal connections. You don’t all have to be in the same industry—in fact, it’s better if everyone comes from different fields.
ESFJ: Your strong sense of teamwork and caring heart will find purpose and fulfillment by taking a leadership role on an industry committee or organization. You’ll be able to help your peers—and yourself—grow professionally through a focused mission and consistent meetings.
ENFJ: Intuitive and responsible with a social disposition, volunteering at events or nonprofit organizations related to your field allows you to network while contributing to a good cause. Find opportunities to mentor or teach to share your attentiveness to the needs of others.
ENTJ: Because you enjoy problem solving, achieving goals, and leading initiatives, offer your expertise as a consultant to form trust-based connections. Your direct communication style is perfect for speed networking, attending fairs, or even introducing yourself to the people in the other offices around you.
Work with your personality type, but remember that networking is all about professional development and growth. If you know it challenges your natural temperament, go alone to that conference, approach that high-profile expert, or present on that panel. Don’t let your attitudes to compete or compare your professional path to others cramp your networking style.