Networking is often touted as a key to career success. While connecting with other professionals is certainly valuable, it’s also incredibly challenging for those who consider themselves to be shy or introverted. But networking doesn’t have to be hard, even if you aren’t naturally comfortable talking to new people. To help you achieve networking success, here are some tips to get you started.
Work Within Your Comfort Zone
When most people visualize the idea of networking, their brain automatically pictures massive events, like industry conferences. However, you don’t have to head out to a large venue to find networking opportunities.
For example, you can begin reaching out to other professionals over social media, allowing you to eliminate some of the pressures associated with making a first impression in person. Alternatively, you can focus on smaller gatherings, like local chapter meetings for professional organizations, to help you get started.
Another approach is to enlist assistance from friends or trusted colleagues by requesting they accompany you to events or connect you with members of their networks, allowing you to have a built-in buffer for the experience.
The idea is to find options that allow you to feel comfortable, letting you get started, build your confidence, and have positive experiences.
Think Quality Over Quantity
A mistake some professionals make when it comes to networking is assuming you need to connect with as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, to be effective. Often, the opposite is true, as focusing on quality over quantity can yield the biggest rewards.
Instead of racing around to exchange business cards or email addresses, concentrate on making connections with those that interest you. This allows you to build relationships with other professionals, increasing the odds that the relationship will last over the long term.
Plan for Neutral Common Ground
Some introverts struggle with networking because they aren’t sure what to say when they meet someone for the first time. However, this can often be overcome by using an interview tip: Planning in advance.
Instead of going into an event blind, come up with some key points you can discuss in advance. This can include industry trends or new developments that peak your interest, details about your employer or experience, and even interesting current events. That way, you’ll have some built-in small talk, making the initial conversations easier to manage.
As you plan topics, try to keep them neutral. Avoid issues that can automatically be contentious or controversial, as this can strain conversations or may lead someone to be inadvertently offended or put off.
In the end, networking doesn’t have to be a challenge, even if you consider yourself to be an introvert. Just remember to work within your comfort zone, focus on quality over quantity, plan some small talk, and you’ll be all set.
If you are interested in learning more or are looking for a new position, the knowledgeable team at The Squires Group can help you succeed. Contact us today to see how our services can work for you.