Jun
03

Networking Tips for Introverts

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networkingYou’ve probably been told that networking is one of your most important job search tools. Unfortunately, networking can be quite difficult if you are an introvert.

Not to be confused with shyness, introversion is a personality trait where individuals prefer to relate to the world by first taking it inward. Extraverts, on the other hand, are energized by direct interaction with the world.

If you’re not sure whether you’re an introvert or an extravert, take a quick quiz to find out. To explore how this may affect your career choices and job search strategies, ask your career counsellor about taking a personality assessment, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Even if you have a strong preference for introversion, there’s no need to let it keep you from networking and missing out on great career opportunities. Here are a few strategies that have worked for me.

Let them come to you

An important aspect of attending workshops, conferences, and other networking events, is meeting the other participants. But as an introvert, it can be challenging (to say the least) to approach strangers in a crowded room, when you’d really rather be sitting in the corner or, better yet, at home playing with your cat.

Savvy introverts have learned that there is a way to meet a large number of people without the discomfort of introducing yourself to strangers, the fear of interrupting a conversation, or the awkwardness of making small talk. Their secret is to volunteer at the registration desk. This role provides the opportunity to meet nearly everyone as they come in (depending, of course, on the number of people staffing the registration desk) and something to say to them (here is your name tag, the bar is over there, etc.) without having to step very far outside their comfort zone. And, because most people will be eager to move on to where the activities are taking place, they’re unlikely to want to stick around and engage in lengthy conversation.

Offer to speak

Studies have shown that more people fear public speaking than fear death. I can relate to that!

I’ve spoken in front of many groups, both large and small, at a variety of different events. Although I’m still pretty nervous before speaking, once I get up there, I actually enjoy it! In fact, many people express surprise when I identify myself as an introvert. I’m actually pretty surprised myself. The only thing I can figure is that as an introvert, I’m not comfortable approaching others, but if they come to me as a subject expert, that’s a whole different story.

Arrange to meet with others one-on-one

There’s no law that says networking can only take place at large formal gatherings! Although they’re a great way to meet people, they’re generally not conducive to the type of one-on-one interaction you thrive at.

If you make a good connection at such an event, follow up and invite them to meet you over coffee. This will allow you to build a deeper relationship, and you’ll be much more relaxed.

Do the same thing on a regular basis with others you know. Pretty soon networking will be as natural to you as breathing!

Additional Resources

If you have other great tips or resources for introverts, please share them in the comments!

Janet Barclay is a web designer, virtual marketing assistant and former employment counsellor who has supported career professionals and other small business clients since 2003. She can be reached through her website OrganizedAssistant.com.

 

Illustration courtesy of idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Categories : Career Development

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