Networking Success For Introverts

Network, network, network. You hear that all the time in reference to finding a new job.

Most of us are taught how to write a sparkling resume, smile and shake hands, and look people in the eye during an interview in order to improve our chances to get a job. Few of us have been taught how to network.

It’s easy for people who enjoy big events to network. They love to work a room; they thrive on the energy of the crowd.  These people are sociable and are comfortable being gregarious and outgoing.

But what if you are the unassuming, shy type? How can you network with success when you are an introvert?

Here are six things you can do if you have a reserved, reticent type of personality, but you still need to network anyway.

  1. Stay in your comfort zone

If you’re uncomfortable, it will show. So stick to what works for you. Don’t worry if you can’t network well at big events, because not all networking happens at large events. It could be more conducive for someone like you to network one-on-one, either in person, by mail, LinkedIn, Facebook, Skype, FaceTime or phone. Don’t force it. Instead do what works for your comfort level.

  1. Ask advice

When you do contact someone you’d like to network with, ask for some advice. Or ask them questions about how they got in their field or how they like the company they work for, or what it is they enjoy about their jobs. Do not ask them to help you get a job! Don’t ask if you can forward your resume to them or ask them to put in a good word at HR for you. Just ask for advice.

  1. Once you ask your questions, shut up and listen

This is actually easier for an introvert than an extrovert. And it works in your favor, because people love to talk about themselves more than they want to hear about you. So ask an open ended question, such as how did you get to where you are today, and then do yourself a favor and shut up and listen. It’s still networking, even if you aren’t doing all of the talking.

  1. Perfect your elevator pitch

No one likes to develop an elevator pitch. But honing and perfecting what you want to say, in 30 seconds or less, can bring great rewards. The opportunity to give your brief pitch can show up at any time, so it’s best if you are prepared in advance. Since you’ve got a limited time to get your point across, write out what you want to say on an index card, make sure it is less than half a minute long, and then practice it often, until it flows off of your tongue with no hiccups. What your elevator speech should include is who you are, what you do, and where you’d like to go in your career and why. With any luck, you might give your spiel to the right person on the right day. Either way you want to be ready for any eventuality.

  1. Use it, don’t lose it

Build your networking list and use it often. Who do you lunch with? Who do you keep in touch with from your alma mater, or from your last job?  Make a list of these people and contact them every 4 months or so, just to keep in touch. Writing a note of thanks to someone, on actual paper, for something they’ve done for you stays a long time in their memory bank. Jot down on your calendar one week twice a year where you write an email just to say hi. You’ll stay fresh in their memories that way and when something comes up that might be right up your alley, they’ll know how to find you because you’ve never lost touch.

  1. Pay it forward

Helping a colleague today can possibly lead to a job tomorrow. So be available to others who request your help. This will not only help you to gain some self confidence, it can also benefit you down the road, as you will end up building contacts who may be of assistance to you sometime in the future.

The more you network, the more opportunities will come your way. It’s a matter of percentages, really. The more people you know and know well, the better the odds that someone will know of an opportunity. Don’t use reticence as an excuse. Networking is just as easy for an introvert as an extrovert, if you just know how to do it!