Networking for Introverts

September 19, 2012


Networking, networking, networking. It’s pounded into the head of every job seeker – and for good reason. In the job market, knowing the right people can substantially cut down the time it takes to find a new position.

While not many people will admit to actually enjoying networking events, and for people with introverted personalities, they can be downright painful.

While the word “introvert” is often used interchangeably with the word “shy”, there’s more to it than that. Introverts have a unique set of personality attributes that present both advantages and disadvantages.

In simple terms, introverts are people who need alone time to recharge their batteries and get drained by extended periods of socializing. (As opposed to extroverts, who need to socialize to recharge their batteries.) Since networking is essentially socializing, this presents a special problem. Mingling with a room full of strangers is, at best, an extremely draining proposition.

If you’re an introvert, networking may never be comfortable for you, but there are ways to make it much less painful.

Set Realistic Goals
You don’t have to strike up a conversation with each person, shake every hand and collect every business card to network effectively. You might set a goal of meeting and getting business cards from two new people, or introducing yourself to one key player at a company that’s of interest to you.

Give Yourself An Exit Strategy
Decide ahead of time how long you want to stay, or what specific goals you need to accomplish before you will allow yourself to leave. If you only want to stay for 30 minutes, that’s fine. Plan ahead and determine when and how to make a graceful exit.

Easy On The Refreshments
If you’re naturally shy, it can be tempting to have a couple of drinks to “loosen up”. If alcohol is offered at the event, having one glass of wine is probably fine. Having three, four or five glasses of wine is not. It might make it easier to strike up a conversation, but it will also make it easier to say something inappropriate or behave unprofessionally.

Follow Up Is Key
Being an introvert has its advantages. Introverts are generally good listeners and thorough processors of information. Once you’ve had time to reflect on the conversations you had, you’ll probably have some smart and insightful thoughts that will impress your new contacts. Reach out via email or LinkedIn to continue the conversation.

If you’d like some more networking tips or job search advice, please contact us. If you’re looking for a new position in the Dallas area, please look at our list of open opportunities.

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