7 Networking Tips for Introverts
Introversion is all too often treated as if it is a curse that afflicts only the most unfortunate members of society. However, while introversion can be the brick wall standing between an individual and his or her dream job, being introverted isn’t an employment death sentence.
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What most don’t realize is that introversion is not equivalent to an antisocial personality. In fact, introversion is defined as the preference to draw one’s energy from an inner world of ideas. Introverts thrive in their interpersonal lives due to their sensitivity, caring, and empathetic understanding of people. However, when thrown into the business world, they can become drained from forced social interaction, which can become discouraging for job hunters who have to go on multiple interviews.
Still, introverts who have a handle on using their strengths to their advantage will optimize time spent with their ideas, which will allow them to reach their full potential. This makes them powerful in networking situations, because they’ll be able to promote themselves in great detail. Here are a few networking tips that introverts can use to make the job hunting experience less grueling.
1. Give yourself permission to network. As a kindhearted individual, you might feel sleazy making connections with people for the sole purpose of employment. Think of it this way: you aren’t manipulating people, you’re selling yourself. Networking is similar to dating in that you want to play up your best attributes so that someone will want to meet with you again.
2. Listen. Good listeners are hard to come by in this world of exponentially increasing narcissists. Most people tend to talk a lot more than they listen, and as an introvert you should exploit your ability to pay attention. Leaders will appreciate your high level of receptiveness, and an added bonus is that you won’t have to talk as much.
3. Come prepared. Before heading to an interview or networking event, come up with a few questions you want to ask and interesting personal experiences that are relevant to share with potential employers. It’ll be easier to have conversations with new people if you have an outline of what you would like to discuss. It’s an especially good idea to have some talking points in the event of an awkward pause in the conversation.
4. Don’t go too far out of your comfort zone. Connecting with strangers is uncomfortable, but you still need to push yourself outside of the imaginary walls you have put in place. That said, don’t overexert yourself to the point of social anxiety and panic. Challenge yourself to have good conversations, but know when to bow out before you shoot yourself in the foot.
5. Focus on a few individuals. Don’t waste your energy trying to force a connection with every person you encounter. Pick one or two people whom you’d genuinely like to meet and then show enthusiasm about what they do. It’s better to make fewer, more meaningful connections than to have many that will only lead you nowhere fast.
6. Network in field. Introverts love to help others, and it will serve them well to build relationships with workers in their area of interest. Find people who are doing what you want to do and focus on meeting with them.
7. Ask for favors. Get in touch with people you may already know and gather information on company culture. They may be able to recommend leaders that you should talk to for the best chance of making a solid connection.
Introversion is a way of life, not a disease. Networking can be an unpleasant experience for job hunters who are not natural social butterflies. Don’t force yourself to be someone you’re not when making connections, but do try to break out of your comfort zone and come prepared. Finding a job in today’s market is tough, but introverts can still succeed in securing a career through networking if they use the right tactics. Businesses need intelligent and empathic employees. The trick for introverts is to get themselves noticed.
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