For us introverts, attending a big networking event can seem like a complete and utter nightmare. It’s a time where we’re pushed out of our comfort zones and forced to make mindless chit chat with a bunch of strangers. As an introvert, could you think of anything more tortuous?
Here’s the deal:
Networking is an important aspect of job hunting. Having a connection at a company is a great way to get your foot in the door, and having someone to vouch for you can land you an interview over other candidates.
Even if the idea of networking with total strangers makes you want to barf, it doesn’t have to be a total torture fest. Here are 8 tips on how to network for introverts:
If the thought of networking events makes you want to curl up and die, cut out the awkward chit chat altogether and take your networking online.
Get active on your professional Twitter account and interact with people in your industry. Take full advantage of your LinkedIn and the connections — connect with industry influences, send them emails, you’ll start reaping in new contacts in no time.
You don’t have to wait for a big event or a career fair to do your networking. Big group conversations and events can be intimidating for us introverts, so just cut out the middleman and request a one-on-one meeting with a potential connect.
One-on-one conversations are a great opportunity to show off your listening and people skills. Request meet ups for coffee or whatever other craving tickles your fancy. Reach out to your friends and colleagues to set you up with meetings with people outside of your network.
When you’re headed to a big gathering full of strangers, it can be super comforting to bring a friend or acquaintance along to ease your nerves. Having an ally at big networking events can ease up your anxiety and help you to get out of your shell and start new conversations with potential connections.
If you show up to an event without an ally, try to make one. We can guarantee that you’re probably not the only one at a networking event who’s also scared to death.
Scope out the crowd and see if there’s someone else in attendance who’s having a difficult time starting conversations. Once you’ve found your target, aim to make that person your new friend. Pro Tip: “Have ever been to one of these events before?” is a great opening line for a conversation.
When you’re all caught up in the whirlwind of making new connections wherever you can, it’s easy to get lost in the sauce and forget about the connections you already have.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget where you came from! Stay in touch with your old contacts and maintain your professional relationship with them. Send them emails to catch up with them and ask about their career.
Schedule coffee dates (they’re just so professional) and make it a priority to reach out to your old contacts on a regular basis, not just when you need a favor. You don’t want to be remembered as that jerk who only comes around when they need something. You never know who could come in handy during a job search, so you don’t want to put anyone on the back burner,
Make sure to keep track of who you meet, where you met them, and what you talked about whenever you attend networking events. The next day, send personalized emails, add your new connections on LinkedIn, or follow them on Twitter to really solidify the new additions to your network.
Before you go into your next networking event, make sure to have an idea of who you want to talk to, what you want to talk about, and what you hope to get out of the conversation.
Look up the people you want to talk to and get an idea of their background to think of conversation starters and questions to ask about their career, like “What motivates you?” or “How did you get started in your career?” Brush up on your small talk skills and focus on making a good impression.
When you go into an event knowing exactly what you want to gain from it, it can make all difference in your confidence.
It’s one thing to be shy, but it’s another thing to look bored or even grumpy. Slap a smile on your face and try to look like you’re engaged with the event an the people who are there.
You don’t always have to start the conversation, but if you come off ass unhappy or unfriendly, you’re not going to make any valuable connections. Relax, smile, and try to make yourself approachable so people are more willing to speak to you.
Once you’ve got a conversation going, be present while speaking with your new acquaintance. If you’re worried about what you’re going to say next, keep the focus on them. Ask them questions about themselves and show off your superior listening skills.
While you should aim to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people, you shouldn’t force yourself to do anything that would make you visibly uncomfortable.
For instance, if you hate being the center of attention — you don’t have to be! Instead of making yourself the focus of the conversation, ask others about their career and their current goals. Show that you’re listening, ask follow up questions, and you’ll be remembered as an attentive person with great communication skills.
Plus, you’ll be a great audience for those extroverts who need an audience for their enchanting stories and hilarious jokes. They’ll be happy you’re there to lend an ear.
Networking can be super intimidating for those of us who would just rather…not. Introverted or not, having a good network is an essential when it comes to finding a job. Having good contacts can get head in your job search, and even help you land your dream job.
The most important tip is to remember that you’re not alone. So many people are naturally introverted that you can guarantee that you’re not the only shy person in the room. Just try to find an ally, step out of your comfort zone, and remember — the torture will be over soon enough.
Now it’s time to get out there and build your network! Good luck!