Everyone can network – even introverts.
Let’s define networking. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, networking is “the exchange of information or services among individuals, groups, or institutions; specifically: the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.”
Networking is a two-way street. It’s a way of getting to know someone better and the ways they might be able to help or connect you—and helping them in return. Every person out there is a complete world of their own with knowledge of things we may have no idea even exist, so it’s good to network with them.
But for introverts, the thought of striking up a conversation with a stranger at a party or conference may feel exhausting. Not to fear! Even if you’re an introvert, you can become a successful networker.
Here are 3 ways to network well, even for introverts:
- Leverage social media. Social media is a great way to get to know important contacts better, without the pressure to find someone to engage at a conference or meeting “networking hour.” Seek out like-minded or key contacts you’d like to know better on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and more and try commenting on a link they post or responding to a comment they make. Start having conversations with them – real conversations – and offer them value in return (i.e. share a blog post they write, or offer positive feedback on something they’ve done). Again, keep it real, genuine and positive. Then, when you have the opportunity to meet them in person—say, for coffee or at an industry meeting—it will be easier to continue the online conversation you’ve had offline.
- Introduce yourself to people in your proximity at industry meetings or conferences. Networking doesn’t always have to be awkwardly seeking out people at a crowded cocktail hour and grasping for a way to start conversation. Some of the best conversations you might have are the ones where you introduce yourself to the person standing in the coffee line next to you or sitting in the hallway near you before the next conference session starts. Usually, just asking, “what do you do?” will kick off a conversation where you can find things in common. Once you meet that person, send them a request to connect on LinkedIn so you can continue the relationship following the conference. Or, if you have their email address, email them something that will help them once they are back at the office—perhaps a link to an article that may help them. Find ways to offer them value so that you can ask them for help in return.
- Use your resume as a tool to seek advice. One of the easiest and most successful ways to network in a job search is to ask people with whom you’ve already established a relationship to review your resume and give you feedback on how to improve it. Using this technique, the person reviewing the resume will discover your work history, your previous titles, your objective and many things they may not have known about you. In many cases, they may remember a job posting or think of an organization that could use your background or may even be able to use your expertise in their firm. The key here is that they are not obligated, they can make the decisions themselves, and they might feel good about helping a friend.
Networking opens up a new world of resources for you that can lead you into new position openings, corporations and different industry and occupational opportunities that you may never have even considered. And even introverts can network well! So now develop a list of people you can contact and happy networking.
What other networking methodologies have worked for you or would you suggest for introverts? We want to hear!
Need more help networking or with your job search? OI Global Partners can help! Contact us today.
With more than 20 years of experience as a human resources consulting professional, Lou DeRosa has been a leading proponent of career consulting, helping to develop organizations that address reemployment and individual career advancement challenges. Always in the vanguard of the art of career development, training and management, he advocates greater career satisfaction, professional growth and economic freedom; these are skillfully achieved through one’s ability to transition from a job, industry or function.
Mr. DeRosa is affiliated with OI Partners/Gateway International, working to manage and conduct various career consulting and corporate outplacement programs. He utilizes his in-depth experience in sales, executive recruiting, career coaching and sales management to foster the success of individuals pursuing career advancement and transition.