Networking 101: Tips for Introverts

Introverts find job search networking particularly challenging. But with a few proven strategies, even the shyest jobseeker can be transformed into a job networking rock star.

networking-for-introverts-tipsDoes the thought of striking up a conversation with a total stranger make your cringe? If it does, you’re not alone. Although there are various degrees of introverts, the Myers-Briggs Foundation (the personality test people) reports that approximately 1 in 2 Americans exhibits some degree of introversion or shyness.

An introverted personality can be a real problem in a job search. For starters, employers tend to prefer candidates who are bubbly, enthusiastic and outgoing – not necessarily a strong suit for introverts.

But introversion and shyness can also handicap your ability to perform career networking – and that could spell really bad news for your job search. Fortunately, most introverted jobseekers can learn how to network effectively. All it takes is patience, persistence and the incorporation of a few common sense guidelines into your job search strategy.

Tip #1: Set Realistic Expectations

A lot of introverts avoid career networking because they place make or break value on every networking interaction. You can dramatically reduce the amount of stress you experience when you network by adjusting your expectations. No one is going to hire you on the spot and if you blow it, your entire job outlook won’t go down the toilet. So instead of feeling like you have to be the most interesting person the networking contact has ever met, relax and just be yourself.

 Tip #2: Prepare a Few “Go-To” Questions

Introverts often struggle with on-the-spot conversations. Although your objective is to eventually bring the conversation around to your job objectives, you can ease into conversations by relying on a prepared list of “go-to” questions for the people you meet. The list doesn’t have to be long (or read from a note card), but a few, carefully crafted conversation can get the ball rolling and significantly increase your comfort level, allowing to be much calmer when it’s time to talk about you.

 Tip #3: Leverage Social Networking Technology

Let’s be clear – technology should never serve as a substitute for face-to-face networking opportunities. But social media sites like LinkedIn are extremely useful for introverted jobseekers because they allow you to initiate communication with large numbers of contacts. If they are used in the right way, social media sites can even act as a filter, reducing your list of face-to-face contacts to those who are most valuable to your job search.

 Tip #4: Have Fun

Rather than approaching your next networking event like a root canal, what if you made an intentional decision to have fun? Here’s what would happen: your body language would improve, your conversations would be more interesting and your networking would kick into overdrive. If you stop trying to be perfect every time and start learning how to enjoy yourself, you might be surprised by the results.

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