The ability to network is crucial to successful career growth. Sure, a brilliant curriculum vitae and relevant work experience will be fruitful in landing you your dream job, but it certainly helps to know or be known by the right people. If you are an introvert, however, you may find the task of establishing and maintaining networks daunting. You may even have heard some say introverts are not good at networking but this is simply untrue. There is no cut and dried networking formula and each person can focus on their strengths to come up with a winning strategy. We have come up with a few tips that can help an introvert to network effectively:
Place and event….
If you are introvert, you probably prefer to interact with small groups of people at quiet venues as opposed to large crowds in noisy places. Many people like to meet and catch up in bustling environments such as bars and busy restaurants and that is fine, but if you are an introvert, it is likely that your energy would be drained in such an environment. If you allow yourself to be in an uncomfortable environment, particularly for an extended period of time, your discomposure will eventually show. You will wish you were elsewhere and your company will easily sense this. Suggest places that would be comfortable for you and times that would be most suitable when decisions regarding where to hang out are being made. Do not shy away from turning down invites to events that would be uncomfortable and inconvenient for you. When you are investing in a relationship, it’s important to put out the best version of yourself, and you will not be able to do this while completely out of your comfort zone.
Granted, you will not always have control over which networking event to attend. There will be times when you will have to attend at an event and/or venue you would ordinarily have avoided. As with anything, preparation is the key to success. Preparation will allow you to guide the conversation, think about what you want to share with your company and what you want to find out from them. Preparation does not entail searching for generic questions and answers on google. Instead, it requires thinking about who you genuinely are so you can share that version of yourself with your company. It also involves doing a bit of research on the company you will have so that your interactions will be informed and intelligent. Ponder over your areas of passion because this will allow you to then steer conversation in a direction which will be comfortable for you.
Maintain the relationships after the events
Maintaining a relationship past the networking event gives you opportunities to then engage on a one on one level with your new network and it also gives you a chance to make up for any mishaps that may have occurred on the initial interaction. Use technology to your full advantage by asking your person of interest for their email address, phone number or LinkedIn profile and make it known to them that you will be getting in touch. A short follow up email thanking them for their company and expressing a lesson or two you learnt from them is a good starting point. It may then open up room for further interactions.
Networking is not a special skill only extroverts possess. Anyone can do it. The key is to find a strategy that works for you and allows you to remain your authentic self. If you have more networking tips for introverts, we would love to hear from you. Comment below!