SPOILER ALERT: Networking is everything when it comes to landing a job and advancing in your career. We've all heard the phrase: “your network = your net worth,” and it's true. Who you know can launch your career in a way that cold emails or following up on job ads just can't. Which really sucks for introverts, since large networking (and even small) can feel both intimidating and exhausting.
So first, let's clear up some misconceptions about introverts. Introverts aren't actually shy or socially inept like many would believe. In fact, many introverts are quite outgoing. People are often surprised to learn that I'm an introvert. Introverts simply need quiet alone time to recharge. While I love socializing, I often need a good half day to myself afterwards. Each introvert needs a different amount of alone time to reboot. Introverts versus extroverts are just a way of describing our internal battery – not our personality.
So are you destined to mediocrity in your career as an introvert? HECK NO! In fact, here are 9 Tips For Networking As An Introvert so you can knock the business world off it's feet!
Networking Introvert Tip 1: Prepare
Many routes exist to prepare for networking events. Personally, I like to have a few questions ready to go to get to know people. This helps when my brain goes blank. Simple questions like, “how did you get started?” or “what are you hoping to get out of tonight or your career?” can go a long way. The answers to the latter may surprise you! Other introverts will often admit they are uncomfortable at these things and before you know it, you may have a new friend!
Another key way to prepare for networking events: think about what YOU will say. I'm a big fan of letting others talk more than you talk at these things. People typically just like others who let them talk about themselves more. But it's also important to be prepared with your own answers to FAQ. Think about your own goals for the event or your career in general. It's a great opportunity to put out an ask. For instance, “I'm looking to transition into a new role at a company who values creativity in the millennial marketing space. Do you know of any like that?” This gets the other person talking again, while also providing you value.
Lastly, do your research. See if you can find out who else will be at the event and create your hit list of people you'd like to connect with. This allows you to stay targeted and efficient with your time. No need to drain your energy on pointless discussions and this will help you ask target questions.
Networking Introvert Tip 2: Cost vs. Benefit analysis
As an introvert, it's not just the time at the event you'll want to look at. Instead, calculate how much time you'll need to get ready and recuperate for the event. Ask yourself, “how would you spend the time if you weren't at the event?” If you'd spend it more productively, maybe it makes more sense to skip the event. There's no reason to pay a huge toll in mental and emotional stress if the event won't be that beneficial to your larger career goals.
Networking Introvert Tip 3: Stay comfortable
This may require some trial and error. Everyone has their own unique networking style. Figure out what yours is and then play to your strengths. For instance, you may prefer low key local events or dinners. Others may prefer large conference halls with booths. Others may like speed dating where they get a one-on-one opportunity with each person present.
Networking Introvert Tip 4: Focus on relationship building
The big key, no matter what your networking style, is to focus on relationship building. You probably won't land a new job in a night. Networking is an art. Focus on helping others, listening, and just building a friendship. That's how the relationships from your network will ultimately pay you back in dividends.
Networking Introvert Tip 5: Remember, you aren't alone
We've all seen the countless memes about introverts being misunderstood – but please remember you aren't alone in this! There will be other introverts you network with. You'll meet others who are nervous too. Remember, that everyone feels a little self conscious at these things and they are paying far greater attention to themselves then they are to you.
Networking Introvert Tip 6: Bring a friend
When in doubt, buddy it out! If you're feeling really nervous, ask a colleague or friend to join you for a networking event. A sort of wing-person if you will. They can help position you in your best light in conversations while you reserve your energy. Try to challenge yourself by splitting up and exploring the networking event alone for a while.
Networking Introvert Tip 7: Look good, do good, feel better
Smiling and dressing well are key to looking food and feeling good. One of the easiest ways to boost your energy at networking events is to feel confident in your own skin. Find ways to get your energy amped up before the event by wearing your favorite outfit, blasting your favorite song, or even finding little pockets at the event that can recharge you. An example of the last one: I love to find a cozy corner or spot outside to quickly recharge for five minutes.
Networking Introvert Tip 8: Trust your gut
At the end of the day, you know yourself best! Trust you know when it's time for a break, when it's time to push yourself out of your comfort zone, and when it's time to leave. You have all the skills and strength within your to create the ultimate network of your dreams! And remember, if you need a pep talk, your buddy has your back!
Networking Introvert Tip 9: Send a note
This is where introverts can excel; and what most people forget. The networking event is just the tip of the iceberg. Now it's time to grow the relationship. Send a handwritten thank you note via snail male after you meet someone can really allow you to stand out from the crowd. If that feels to formal, a simple DM on social media can go the extra mile. If you want to step it up, a few weeks later send an article that reminded you of the person. Find little ways to stay in touch that don't feel exhausting.
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Thank you's and little notes show that you genuinely care about the connection you're building. Too often, networking can feel superficial or forced. This is you chance to take things a step deeper and build those lasting relationships that can really pay off down the road.
There you have it! 9 Tips to network as an introvert! Know that you aren't alone in your struggle. Take this time to prepare and find your unique networking style can go along way in advancing your career!
Want more networking tips? Check out this article: 7 Ways To Network Like A Boss
Now that you're networking like a pro – time to put those skills to use with TCM's job search checklist:
List of 9 Ways To Network As An Introvert
Cost vs. Benefit analysis
Focus on relationship building
Remember, you aren't alone
Bring a friend
Look good, do good, feel better
Trust your gut
Send a note
Originally published 08/06/19