Introverts get a lot of good press these days. Depending on which articles you read and which experts you endorse, introversion is associated with everything from being a better listener to creative thinking and self-reliance. But one thing that introverts generally don’t feel comfortable doing is networking.
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And that’s hard, because networking is more important than ever before. Seventy percent of jobs are found through networking, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But introverts need not despair. A recent article from Career Rocketeer reminded us that there are lots of things less extroverted people can do to connect professionally, including:
1. Make a Plan
Don’t put yourself in a position where you’ll have to come up with a brilliant introductory line on the spot. Plan in advance, by figuring out who is likely to be at the event, and choosing a few folks to talk to. Don’t lock yourself into a rigid set of conversational goals, but keep a few icebreakers in mind to help you feel more comfortable.
2. Be Selfless
The point of networking isn’t to get X number of job leads per cocktail party. It’s to connect with other people, so that you have a web of professional connections to lean on if you need a recommendation for a job on LinkedIn or a suggestion for a class to bolster your credentials. It’s business friendship, essentially.
3. Forget Everything You Think You Know
Don’t go into the situation expecting it to be painful and stilted. Networking is evolving rapidly, like everything else in the world of work. You might be surprised at how painless it can be. You might even have some fun.
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