So I know many of us are introverts and the thought of mingling with people we aren’t close to makes us want to hide, scream or both. However, we know that networking is essential to making money and being successful. The reality is many jobs aren’t even advertised, they’re sent to friends and friends of friends. Some jobs that are advertised are still given to the recruiter’s friend. Several opportunities are out there that we never even hear about because people only tell who they know. It’s not always malicious but it is frustrating. Without getting into how damaging that can be to society, let’s examine the ways you can form these links. As the old saying goes, if we can’t beat them we have to join them.
- Join social media– Social media is a great networking tool if used properly. Besides from having access to a number of jobs and other opportunities, the various social media platforms can be great for connecting with people. Firstly, you can make your presence known and attract people to you. On social media, you create what you want people to see. You are in control of what your brand is and you can attract people to you. Of course, this can be a double edged sword because a lot of positive attention can turn into a lot of negative attention real quick. However, managing a social media account means you need to be able to handle these altercations, that block button is your friend. In addition to attracting people to you, you have the ability to connect with people in your field. LinkedIn is a great resource for doing this. You can really put yourself out there by connecting with brands, their managers, CEOs or even editors on social media. Even if you don’t immediately get a job, you can make an impression where they’ll remember you and probably pass opportunities to you or your name to others who can provide opportunities. Social media is great for introverts because you can minimize the fact to face interactions, often times you can schedule posts and you have the ability to respond at your own pace. You can always log out if you’re feeling overwhelmed with interaction.
- Attend small seminars- Larger seminars and get togethers are usually a nightmare for an introvert. They’re super exhausting and having to be smiling constantly and engaging with all these people you don’t know will run your social battery down quickly. With a smaller seminar/get together, you have less people to talk to and you can have a more meaningful conversation. A more meaningful conversation means you’ll more likely be remembered and therefore heightens the chance you can connect. People love when you listen to them and since you’re probably a good listener and would rather they talk anyway, they’ll appreciate that. If you do choose to attend a larger seminar, Natalie Fisher, an HR generalist suggests showing up early. She calls this time “introvert hour” where there are less people and it’s easier to work the room. Whether the event is big or small don’t go to these seminars unprepared, this will make the experience even more stressful. The good news for introverts is, you can mentally prepare yourself for interaction ahead of time unless you went to the seminar spur of the moment. More often than not though, you’d have to RSVP or buy a ticket thus buying you time to strategize. You can plan a couple talking points, muster up the energy and practice your smile.
- Utilize people you already know- Ask friends and family to put your name out there. Ask them to share your business. Your friends should naturally be passing opportunities your way anyway. With your friends advocating for you, you might have less socializing to do. Win-win. This can apply to if you volunteer, work, have an internship, book club etc. Just engage with the people you already know and like and work on strengthening those relationships too.
- Sign up for mentorship– Some schools and organizations have a mentorship programme that you can sign up for that will put you in contact with someone in your field who can show you the ropes and provide you with opportunities. Sure you still have to interact but it’s usually just one person and face to face interaction isn’t usually too constant and thus too draining. I tried this in university and wasn’t assigned a mentor so I suggest applying to multiple programmes.
- Follow Up– This is a tip for everyone whether you’re an introvert or not. After meeting people, if you want to keep or further establish the link, it’s best to follow up. People often encounter the same set of people at social gatherings and so they’ve had more face time to establish a relationship. This may put an introvert like you at a disadvantage because constantly socializing and going out just isn’t your thing. In that case, you can send an email, a text, birthday wishes and meet up every once in a while. The social media tip above also comes in handy here.
Being outgoing and popular opens up many doors for people, however, we are not all the same. You’ll still have to network, and even though it may not come naturally to you, there’s hope. The key to anything is preparation and using what you already have to succeed.
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