Networking for Introverts
By Kate Flick, Minnesota Job Partners
Networking is one of the most feared words in job search for introverts. I hear from many of my jobseekers some version of the following: “I hate networking,” “I don’t know how to network,” or “I’m not good at talking to people.”
Continue reading if you prefer spending time alone or with a small group of friends. Chances are your personality preference tends toward introversion. My blog will teach you to successfully network on your own terms. It’s an essential job search skill because 85 percent of jobs are filled through networking.
Networking in the minds of many jobseekers seems to evoke an image of attending a large event where you know no one and are forced to make small talk with strangers who may or may not be beneficial to your job search. To an introvert, attending an event like this would be on par with getting a root canal, and approached with a similar amount of fear and dread.
Like most things in life, we feel less anxious when we can focus on things within our control. Attending a large networking event for an introvert can be anxiety-inducing. Instead, try creating a networking event that aligns with your strengths as an introvert.
Introverts usually prefer one-to-one conversations, so rather than attending a large networking event, focus on creating opportunities to meet virtually or in-person one-to-one. Use LinkedIn, friends, relatives, neighbors, or your career counselor to introduce you to someone who may be beneficial to your job search (someone who is in a similar occupation, who works at a company of interest, or who knows someone who works at a company of interest).
Introverts have the superpower of being natural listeners, so use this to your advantage and bring good questions to networking conversations. Usually, good questions beget good questions, which will allow you to share information about your job search and what you seek. Asking questions from a place of genuine curiosity also makes the meeting more enjoyable for your connection and makes you more memorable because of your interest in their career journey.
Be aware of when you are at your best. Talking to others can be draining for an introvert, so keep meetings short (30-45 minutes should suffice) so that you can maintain your energy and interest throughout the conversation. If you’re not a morning person, schedule afternoon meetings. Do your best to keep the appointment, even if the day of the meeting comes and you are feeling reluctant or nervous. Instead, do something before your meeting that will energize you. Take a walk, do yoga, exercise, meditate, sing – whatever you do that makes you feel alive and restored. This way you will be bringing your best self to the meeting.
Often introverts feel more comfortable writing because they can think about what they want to say rather than being articulate in the moment. LinkedIn is a fantastic networking tool that introverts can use to share their thoughts or publish an article. If you have misgivings about posting comments on a social platform, try joining groups on LinkedIn and start small by liking or sharing content. This will help you look relevant in your area of expertise and will generate interest in your LinkedIn profile.
As you grow your networking skills, you may choose to attend a large networking event. Here are tips that can make it less stressful:
Research the guest list. Networking events sometimes offer a list of registered attendees in advance. Use LinkedIn or the event app to schedule a conversation with fellow attendees during the event.
Attend an onsite event with a friend or colleague. The stress of making small talk is divided two ways, which places less pressure on you to be “on” for the entire event.
Connect with other introverts if you need to attend solo. You can usually find them on the perimeter of the room or at the edges of a larger group. Don’t be afraid to break the ice by sharing the misery of networking. An interesting conversation will undoubtedly ensue.
Attend for 30 minutes with a goal of meeting 3-5 people. Adjust goals to your comfort level. Exchange contact information with anyone you meet and don’t forget to reward yourself for busting out of your comfort zone.
Read our previous blog, Networking to Find a Job. .