More than half of all respondents in a recent HotJobs poll noted that networking helped them land their most recent jobs. Networking is key to career success but if you’re shy by nature, it can be cause for extreme anxiety. You know you need to do it, but you absolutely dread “schmoozing.”
The good news is: Networking isn’t just about working a crowd. In fact, introverts have some qualifications that work to their advantage. For instance, they tend to be excellent listeners who reflect before speaking and enjoy one-on-one conversations.
And that is the essence of successful networking: building relationships with individuals based on mutual generosity and support. So as daunting as it may seem, you can do it.
Some Common Sense Advice
Boost your networking confidence by following these common-sense steps:
- Start small. Seek out familiar faces. Successful networking doesn’t have to be a “cold call.” Starting with a known contact demystifies the process and helps get you over your initial shyness hurdle.
- Smile. It’s a simple, basic premise, yet sometimes we have to consciously think before we do it. Scowling and serious expressions are forbidding. People are more likely to warm up to you if you smile and just say hello.
- Ask a question. This is the best way to engage in a group conversation. By asking a good question, you build your credibility. And, it’s a lot easier than chiming in with an opinion right up front.
- Say a person’s name. People love to hear it. They feel more comfortable talking to you and more like they already know you and vice versa.
- Be yourself. Many introverts mistakenly think they have to act like extroverts when networking. While you do have to make an effort to be more outgoing than normal, don’t be artificial. Instead, be the authentic person you are. You’ll get better results, hands down.
- Tap into your passions. Join clubs and attend events that relate to your favorite activities and interests. The people you meet may just have access to the job you’ve always wanted or company you want to work for. Engaging in activities you enjoy with other people makes conversation much easier and more natural.
- Be prepared. Think of ice breaker questions in advance and also anticipate which questions you may be asked; for instance, why are you job hunting? Have your answers ready.
- Volunteer at large events. Shy people often find it easier to become acquainted with others by making a contribution, rather than small talk. Volunteering gives you a defined purpose, and the work itself can be a good networking opportunity.
- Arrive at events early. Beat the crowd and get there before groups form. There will probably be just a few random others who came early and they’ll be delighted to have someone to talk to. Then, you automatically become part of a group.
The Value of a Career Coach
Mastering the art of networking is like learning any other skill. It takes practice and commitment – and an experienced coach can be a tremendous asset as you fine tune the process. The PrideStaff Modesto team is ready to help as you take this key step towards career goal achievement. Read our related posts or contact our experienced, Fresno-based, recruiters to learn more.
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