By Sarah Kovalesky, CPDC Undergraduate Career Coach
Even now as a Career Coach, hearing the word networking makes my stomach flip over and makes me want to go hide. I have always liked small groups or been the quiet one with her nose in a book; and I have always preferred it that way. Networking is a reality of the world of work, and over time I have come to own my introversion and found strategies that make networking work for me in what is often an extroverted world.
Tips for Where to Start
Have a plan for networking events. These types of events can be really daunting and, as an introvert, it is best to have a plan!
- Pick an event during a time when you know you are at your best. If you are not an evening person, maybe look into attending an event over the lunch hour or during the day.
- Start with research to know who you can expect to be there, who you want to talk with, and the logistics of the event.
- Once you have done your research, come up with a goal for how many people you want to talk with at the event.
- Plan ahead for ways to recharge after the event. That might mean watching a movie, reading a book, going for a run, cooking a meal, or doing whatever you need to do to take care of yourself after networking.
Seek out 1/1 and online opportunities. These types of interactions are often much more comfortable because you are able to focus your energy on building a relationship with just one person.
- Start looking for these opportunities through people you already know and learning who they know as a starting point.
- Create and send messages through platforms like AlumniFire and LinkedIn where you might ask a connection several questions or do what we would call an informational interview.
- If talking to someone sounds a bit much at first, start by emailing and then maybe move into a phone call, video chat, or informal coffee meeting.
Use your introvert superpowers! Introverts might live in an extraverted world, but our personalities provide us with a skillset that can be incredibly powerful when it comes to making connections and forming relationships. Some of these skills and superpowers are:
- The ability to focus and concentrate
- Superior listening skills
- A reflective nature to develop well thought out questions
What are some of your introvert superpowers?
Challenge and unapologetically be yourself! It can be really easy to fall into the “act more like an extravert” or “talk more” advice that a lot of introverts will hear from extraverts in their life. It might take some time and practice outside of your comfort zone, but at the end of the day, be proud that you are an introvert! Start with my advice above and find what works for YOU and your introversion – you too can network!
Resources & References