Networking for Introverts: How to Make Connections

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Networking for Introverts: How to Make Connections

Networking can be a complex and frightening business, perhaps to the point that you hate the very word itself. Alas, one cannot do without the ability to build social connections, and if you approach the networking correctly it can help you get closer to your dream.

According to LinkedIn, 85% of specialists get a job using one or another kind of connections.

Many people – and especially introverts – do not like networking, because they consider it to be shameless self-advertisement, built on falsehood. But this is not exactly true.

“It’s about building really deep and strong relationships,” says Robert Diaz, an expert on personal growth and author of a book on networking.

Networking evokes mixed feelings even among self-proclaimed extroverts, such as Alice Elliott, a career counselor, despite the fact that she herself said that she obtained half of her jobs through networking.

“Sometimes you feel some sort of energy at such events: we are all in the same room and everyone really wants to be themselves,” she says. “But sometimes everyone has a feeling that he or she must pretend to be someone else.”

What can you do to overcome your shyness? Her answer is simple: ask questions. People like to talk about themselves.

Be open

Of course, “be yourself” is a hackneyed phrase. But the main thing here is to be ready, Diaz thinks.

In advance, think about how you will present yourself, to get remembered by the person you are talking to. Make a list of questions you can ask and topics that can easily support the flow of the conversation.

As in any other relationship, in networking balance is important. Professionals say that it is important not only to properly present oneself but also to listen carefully to the stories that others share. It often turns out that you and your interlocutor have much more in common than you think.

“If you are genuinely interested in the interlocutor, you are already on the way to success,” says Benjamin Munoz, 27, a product manager at MOS Software Group. Munoz believes that his successful career is largely due to the connections that he acquired during internships and previous work.

Less is more

Many introverts do not want to open their mouths until they carefully think things through. Robert Diaz believes that this trait can help build deeper connections.

Instead of panicking at the thought that you are going to meet 20 people, try to find an approach to a couple of those who may be most useful to you, and, of course, find out more about them.

Ask meaningful questions and listen to the answers. Diaz advises:

“Instead of asking “What do you do?” ask “What is your favorite part of the job?” 

Use the traditional approach

Professionals advise introverts to come to meetings early. If you come in late, all the people who got there earlier will break up into groups, and it’s not easy to get into one of those groups.

Alice Elliott, who happened to work with representatives of different generations, says that the millennials are usually more difficult to work with at meetings:

“Wonderful gadgets in our pockets can be a great way to avoid communication with people if we do not feel comfortable at an event.”

However, she is convinced: if you want to succeed, you will have to invest time and energy in communication face to face. No technology will replace personal contact.

The dream job will not fall from the sky if you just sit at home and press the buttons, even if you send out a hundred resumes a day. Just try to talk with the living people, – Elliott advises.

A bonus: buy your interlocutor a drink. “This way I do not have to tell people how good I am,” Diaz says. “They see it themselves.”

Quick Tips

If you do not have enough connections, attend topical networking events.

Make the person you talk to answer “yes” to the request for a short interview. Write personalized emails to potential contacts and mention some facts that you have learned about them.

Always remind people about yourself. The general rule is to write a letter within two days after the meeting. At the same time, you should avoid Mondays: people are overwhelmed with work, and your letter may remain unanswered.

Keep in touch with classmates, fellow students, and professors.

If you do not have sufficient qualifications, networking will not help much. Make the maximum effort in everything that you do.

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