Networking is a vital part of starting a career, or changing fields. And it sucks. Even the boldest and most extroverted people in the world struggle with it. And if you aren’t extroverted, it becomes twice as scary. No matter your personal disposition, it has to be done. Instead of just sucking it up and scaring yourself by diving in, use these networking tips for introverts to make your life a little easier.
1. Think Of Who You Already Know
Networking doesn’t have to be some big, new, scary event where you’re interacting with hundreds of strangers in a day. Instead, think of who you may already know in your intended field. Maybe your aunt’s best friend works as a writer, and you want to be an editor. Talk to your existing contacts to see who may fit the bill.
2. Consider Groups You’re Involved With
In the same vein, think about groups you’re involved in that you can take advantage of. Your current job. A sports team. Co-curriculars. Even a book club. Use these as beginner-networks and get your start there.
3. Start Small
This is not a one day opportunity. You don’t need to magically create a network in three hours. Instead, take your time with it and make each move count. If you calculate the steps, there’s less treading water and more using your time.
4. Meet 1-On-1
A lot of networking tips for introverts revolve around managing big events. That’s not necessary! If the group scene of a large networking event is intimidating to you, skip it. Instead, meet one on one with the people you need to know. Look up a company you know on LinkedIn and see if you have any connections. Then email that person to meet up, so that they can advise you on how to get in the door.
5. Pick Your Events Wisely
If you can handle a big event, then do it! But going to every networking event in the field is totally unnecessary. Rather you should go to specific events where you know what will go on and who will be there. Preferably, the people you need to talk to.
6. Do Your Research
On that note, research the events, companies and people beforehand. If you have some background on all of these, you can come in with specific questions rather than not knowing what you want. Showing that you know what you’re talking about looks a lot better than being confused. And, if you can get them talking, you don’t have to talk so much yourself.
7. Have Some Topics In Mind
Have a list of pre-thought out topics of discussions in your head in order to avoid any awkward pauses. Even just a couple generalized talking points is better than running off because you ran out of things to say.
8. Know Yourself
Speaking of which, have a list of things to say about yourself as well. As uncomfortable as it can be to talk about yourself, you are what you’re selling here. If you know you’re going to have to grin and bear it, preparing yourself can only help. Develop a short elevator pitch that includes who you are, what your experience is, and what you want to do.
9. Give Yourself A Break
Like I said, this isn’t something that has to all get done in one day! If you’re at an event and you’re getting stressed out, feel free to step out. Or even leave. It’s not worth straining yourself too much over. If you can’t make it through a whole event, take special time and care with the connections you did manage to make.
10. Take Notes
On the back of each business card you receive, jot some stuff down that you’ll want to mention later. Details about the person or the company that will help you make a good impression down the line, and even help you make your decision when you’re looking between two companies. The more you remember, the more they’ll be impressed.
11. Follow Up
This is one of the most vital networking tips for introverts or and extroverts alike. And the best part is that this part can happen behind a screen! If making a phone call seems like the end of the world (not to mention, very retro), follow up over email. Send a direct response to whomever you spoke with, thanking them for the opportunity and letting them know that you look forward to getting to know them and working with them in the future.
12. Go It Online
If all of this is just too much for you and you’ve broken into a nervous sweat just reading this article, step back. Plenty of companies have a strong online presence that you can reach out to. If they have a lot of employees on LinkedIn, use that. Email some that you may have some connection with in order to get a leg up. Then, after you’ve gotten to know this one person a little better, you can move up to face to face contact.
13. Buddy Up
This doesn’t have to be a solo project! If you’re nervous alone but have a good friend who is also hunting, take them with you. Even if you just check in with them between companies at whatever event you’re at, it can be a big moral boost. Also, you have someone to talk to and destress to after if you need it.
14. Maintain Relationships
Don’t let all of your hard work go to waste. Keep in contact with the people you met. Even if they aren’t hiring right now, by making this link you are putting yourself first for whenever they need someone new. And, bonus, this means you won’t have to go through any of this nonsense again.
15. See It As A Challenge
I can’t lie; this isn’t an easy mission. No matter how many networking tips for introverts you can find, it’s still you doing it. If you’re someone whose comfort zone is about the size of your living room, getting out there can be terrifying. But it’s not worth being unemployed, or unhappy in your current position. So fasten up your boot straps and get yourself into this. You can do it!