Friends and family often have lots of advice when you start your new job search: update your resume, practice your interview skills, and network, network, network! However, if you’re an introvert, networking probably seems like an unpleasant chore that you’d rather avoid. The truth is, networking is an incredibly important part of your career, whether or not you’re looking for a new job. Before you give up on it, here are four simple but crucial tips for introverts that can make networking a whole lot easier.
Prepare ahead of time
Networking will seem less intimidating if you prepare yourself ahead of time. Start by researching the event you will be attending, the person you’ll be meeting, or the topic of any upcoming presentation. If this is a recurring event, look up prior years of events online to get an idea of what to expect. Then prepare some relevant comments or questions that you can rely on for conversation. Finally, plan any personal details of the networking event. What will you wear? How will you get there? Will you plan to drink or not? Do you plan to take business cards? The more you prepare yourself ahead of time, the more you can put your mind at ease before and during a networking event.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
When it comes to networking, don’t judge yourself by other people’s standards of success. Instead, know your own strengths and weaknesses so that you can form a successful approach to networking. For example, if you don’t like to talk about yourself, make a point of listening to other people’s stories and empathizing with them. Steer the conversation by asking their opinion on a recent event or asking them about themselves. If you dislike being in large crowds, focus your energy on smaller, more intimate settings. And if you’re an expert at a certain skill or have a particular interest, look for ways to network with others who share that same skill or interest.
Set small, achievable goals
One of the best ways to overcome networking hurdles is to set small, achievable goals for yourself. If you attend a meeting or an event, set a goal of introducing yourself to at least one new person. If food is involved, make a point of joining a table where someone else is already sitting instead of sitting by yourself. And once you’re at the event, promise yourself that you’ll spend at least 30 minutes there before heading home. Over time, these small goals will turn into habits, and they will eventually become part of your new networking routine.
Find unique ways to network
Who says networking has to be about going to events and meeting people face to face? Networking can happen over the phone, by email, or in an online forum, and all of these are equally valid and valuable ways to connect with people. If you’re a member of a user group or professional association, look for opportunities to take part in online discussions or answer people’s questions in online forums. If you work with a vendor or a customer that you like and respect, reach out to him or her by phone or email to keep in touch. Remember that you should always connect with these same people on LinkedIn so you can stay in touch in the future, too.
No matter what type of personality you have, the benefits of networking are too important to pass up. Why not start networking today by connecting with us? At Bishop & Company, we’re passionate about helping people find not just their perfect job, but their perfect career in Hawaii.