Networking Tips for Introverts

I’ve never been a big group person. In fact, the bigger the group, the less significant I tend to feel, and the more tongue-tied I can become. Can any of you relate? Yet, as candidates, you’re told that you need to network in order to find a good job or advance your career. Well, cheer up. Help is on the way!

First of all, you may have already discovered what I did many years ago as I tried to hide against a wall at a large party. Suddenly, I spotted one person whom I thought I might like to get to know. Hesitantly, I inched my way over to her. Encouraged by her friendly smile, I introduced myself and we began a conversation that became meaningful, satisfying my need for something deeper than surface chit-chat. Before I knew it, I had found a friend–and a tool. Rather than seeing the crowd as a whole, I learned that I only needed to connect with one person for an event to be enjoyable and purposeful.

If you’ve already discovered that tip, the good news is, NFIB has five really great networking tips for introverts that may be new to you, as they were to me. Here’s my synopsis of them, as they apply to job seekers:

Don’t pressure yourself so much. If you’re hoping to land a job or meet the perfect employer, you may be expecting too much. Networking and communicating your personal brand will take time, so don’t try to force something that could end up leaving you feeling awkward.

Find a friend in the crowd. That in itself isn’t a new tip, but NFIB expands on it. They suggest that if you know who’s going to be there beforehand, you could check out their LinkedIn profiles and look for specific people with whom you have something in common or whom you especially want to meet.

Reach out beforehand. Taking the above suggestion one step further, you could use a service like SendOutCards.com to contact those people beforehand and express your desire to connect. This might take some of the apprehension out of that first greeting.

Be a good listener. As we’ve said in previous posts, a big part of networking is learning how you can help someone else, so listening is a key skill. NFIB suggests that listening may actually be more comfortable for us introverts than talking. “Learn to ask questions and listen to the answers. Ask the names of people you meet, what they do, why they do it, and who they would like to meet. Then ask for their business card and be sure to jot those answers on the back.”

Listen to yourself, too. It’s normal to get nervous. If you do, don’t ramble on about the details–stick to the bigger picture. And realize that you’re not the only one who isn’t a natural at networking.

So what if you try these tips and you’re still miserable? It could happen. An introvert friend–let’s call her Jill–went to a conference recently and used the “find a friend” trick. Unfortunately, her friend was full of negative drama, continuously using her cell phone and distracting everyone around her. Jill finally decided that it would be better to be alone than to be exposed to such negativity and bravely changed seats. After encountering yet another negative person, Jill moved again, eventually finding a positive friend and salvaging the whole experience. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again, right?

It’s just a fact that networking doesn’t come naturally for introverts. Striking up easy conversations probably won’t be a snap, and you may need to exercise some persistence like Jill did. But if you want to find your dream job, networking is a method proven to help. With these tips, you just might discover that it isn’t as difficult as you thought. And who knows? You may possibly find a real friend in the process.

Candidates, do we have the most current version of your resume? If not, click here to post it, and visit our job board while you’re at it! You or a friend might be a good fit for one of our open positions.

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