11 Career Networking Tips for Introverts
Over the many years I have worked with job seekers, I’ve heard clients say they’re doing a good job yet not getting anywhere. I ask “How are you approaching the search?” When the answer is “I’m using the job boards and doing everything online,” I suspect I’m talking to an introvert.
For the majority of people, job search success works much faster with appropriate networking.
Networking is quite scary to many introverted people. I’m an introvert who was fearful years ago and then became curious. Also, I love research, and the combination of the two can make networking very powerful. As an introvert, I realize I do it in a way that works for me and I’ve been sharing this information with others for years.
Productive job search networking:
- Networking is building effective relationships that consist of giving and receiving information that’s helpful to each other. Not all contacts become part of your ongoing networking group.
- You’re looking for specific information from people in either the industry or the profession you’re in. You are not asking for a job.
- Formal networking is a meeting that requires more structure and an agenda. Sometimes you don’t know the person though you’re referred to him or her by someone you have already met.
- Casual networking is done at a party, association meeting, an event or talking with someone you know or don’t know on the spur of the moment.
- In the job search, you want to spend more time with people who are employed.
- You get referrals to other people as much as possible.
Now that you on the verge of hyperventilating, here are 11 tips to make it easier for you.
- Networking is a skill that can be learned and you undoubtedly already do it and may not associate it with the job search. When you were employed, did you ask others in or out of the company how something worked? Have you ever asked a friend for the name of a good cleaners or doctor?
- Think of networking as research, not asking for help.
- Move into networking through friends and family and at job search networking events. Get the practice where you feel safe and be sure to get feedback.
- Remember, introverts aren’t always shy. You may not always be comfortable or appreciative of much small talk. To compensate, ask others about themselves, their work and their employer.
- Join professional associations. At the meetings, stay away from the pre-lunch cocktail type of networking. Those people you see on their phones are avoiding this as much as you are. Instead, arrive a few minutes before the meal begins and find a table where you can meet people from different organizations. Then, volunteer to be the host for the table. That way, it’s structured and you can hear everyone else’s introduction before you give your own. Just let them know you’re in that “job transition” phase, as though it’s just a part of life. LISTEN AND SMILE.
- Keep a list of companies you’d like to learn more about. That way, you always have something to say whenever you meet people. “I’ve got three companies that I am currently researching: ABC, Jones Brown, XYZ. Do you happen to know anyone that may know something about them?”
- Learn to pace yourself. If you’ve been home two days in a row behind the computer, get to a networking event or schedule a lunch with a friend. For an introvert, more than two solid networking meetings a day will wear you out and you won’t be able to follow up.
- If possible, meet others in a setting where you’re comfortable and relaxing. One client networked on the golf course; another loved coffee houses and yet another, brew pubs. (Tip: The brew pub is not a good idea if the person may be a potential employer!)
- If you have children, school events are great places to network. If you have grandchildren, volunteer to take them to their soccer games and attend their school functions. The parents always talk during the games. It’s some of the easiest and best networking around.
- If you attend religious services regularly, I suspect the worshipers don’t know you’re unemployed, so practice your introductions.
- Force yourself to practice starting conversations with others every week. You might find that you make some new friends, which can lead to your being employed.
If you’re finding yourself being overcritical of your skills, learn to throw out those thoughts and, just like learning a sport, a software program or any other skill, realize that you’ll learn.
You may even find that you begin to enjoy networking!