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Networking. Eep. just the word alone is anxiety-inducing. Where do you start? How do you go to a networking mixer without completely falling apart? Who do you talk to? What do you say? When you’re an introvert, it can feel really hard. But it’s not impossible. In this blog post, I’ll go over some networking tips that have really helped me as an introvert.
Why do you even need to network these days? Can’t you just submit your resume and bada-bing-bada-boom you get a job interview? Well, not quite. As annoying as it is, 70-80% of jobs are never posted. That means there are all kinds of secret jobs out there that you haven’t even seen yet. So how do you find this top-secret job market? Well, with at least 80% of jobs now being filled through a networking connection, it’s not about what you know these days, but rather who you know.
When most people think of networking, they think that this is a place where only extroverts thrive. Wrong. You definitely don’t need to be—or pretend to be—the most outgoing person in the room.
In fact, there are many reasons why introverts often crush it in the networking department. We’re great listeners, we think before we speak, we’re observant, we’re great 1-on-1 and we care more about making meaningful connections.
Combined, all these amazing qualities can make us awesome at networking. It’s a matter of how we embrace these qualities while we’re networking so we can thrive professionally. So here are nine tips for networking as an introvert.
If you haven’t done that already, go make one. No seriously, go make one and then come back to this blog post. While you can definitely use other social media platforms too, setting up a LinkedIn account is definitely a good way to start.
When networking, starting by reaching out to people you know is a little less intimidating. Think about it—it’s much easier to reach out to a family friend online than it is to cold email someone you don’t know. Plus, they are way more likely to get back to you and actually help you out.
Just like people you know, you’re more likely to hear back from your school’s alumni than a random person you cold-emailed. Why? Two reasons. One, you already have something in common. Two, they have been where you are once and are more likely to help you out.
On LinkedIn, if you search your school’s name and click on the alumni tab, you can see the people who went to your school, what they do and where they work. From there, you can reach out and say hello.
After reaching out to the people in your circles, you can definitely start cold contacting (aka reaching out to people you don’t know). This can be through email, LinkedIn, other social media platforms, or even over the phone (*gasp*). Cold contacting can be frustrating because sometimes it feels like you’re throwing darts blindfolded just hoping to get a response back. But sometimes you do get a response. So you really have nothing to lose.
Once you have made a few connections on Linkedin, ask people if they would be interested in doing a coffee chat with you (aka an informational interview). This isn’t a job interview, it’s more like a professional date where you sit down and get to know the person, either in person or over video chat.
When networking, it’s good to be prepared. Whether it’s a huge networking mixer or just a 1-on-1 coffee chat, it’s good to come with some questions as well as a little elevator pitch about yourself. For your pitch, It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, it should just be a 30 to 60 second speech where you talk about what you do (or want to do), your goals and your skills. You won’t always need it, but it’s good to have it prepared just in case.
If you’re thinking about going to a networking event but are feeling nervous about it, ask a friend to tag along. I know I went with a friend to an event and like having a wing person at the bar, having her there helped a lot. We would give each other pep talks and hype each other up to people. By the end of the night, we both made a few connections. So sometimes, bringing a friend is just what you need.
Networking is a lot sometimes. It’s stressful, exhausting, and draining. So whether it’s going for a walk or just curling up and watching a movie, give yourself permission to practice self-care. After a huge networking event or even a long coffee chat, it’s completely alright to just go home, unwind and recharge your batteries.
From pushing yourself to go to crowded mixers to working on your communication skills, sometimes when you read up on networking tips for introverts, they’re often like guides on how to transform into this mega extrovert. While sometimes this advice is helpful, I definitely don’t think you need to change who you are to succeed.
So if you don’t like crowded mixers, hey, that’s okay. Do some 1-on-1 coffee chats instead. If you don’t want to push yourself to be the loudest person in the room, then don’t. From online groups to messaging people on LinkedIn, there is more than one right way to network.
Networking isn’t easy. It can feel draining, exhausting, and just straight-up awkward at times. But with these few tips, you’re ready to make those connections and score the job you want. Remember there’s no one right way to do this, you don’t need to be a huge extrovert to practice networking. Just be yourself, find what works for you, and go from there.
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