Networking can be a nerve-wracking task for any job seeker or professional to undertake. It can be especially arduous for someone who isn’t exactly comfortable in social situations. Although networking is an integral part of career development, it doesn’t have to be a scary and intimidating undertaking. Below are three tips to help even the most introverted person master the art of networking.
1. – Recognize everything as an opportunity for networking
You don’t have to attend a “networking event” in order to network with other people. Networking opportunities are all around you. Church and social functions, trips to the grocery store, a coffee run – any event in which you interact with other people is an opportunity to make a connection. Many of these events, because they are small and informal in nature, are helpful for introverts because they allow you to be more comfortable and “in your element”. When you don’t think of it as “networking” in the formal sense, it is easier to be comfortable and therefore more engaging.
2. – Think quality versus quantity
If you find yourself in a more formal networking setting, it may help to look for quality connections rather than quantity connections. When you arrive at an event, make it a point to identify two or three people that you can strike up a conversation with. When talking to those people, be sure to smile warmly and ask questions. These actions allow a person to become more comfortable with you and makes them more likely to open up and begin talking about themselves. Not only does this take some of the pressure of making conversation off of the introvert, but it also allows both parties to establish a meaningful connection and find some common ground between them.
3. – Seek out intimate opportunities
Once a connection has been established, seek to bolster the budding relationship with more intimate opportunities. Try asking a potential lead out to lunch at a quiet bistro or consider dropping by his or her office with coffee (after getting permission, of course). Supplementing a tenuous connection to someone with additional interactions only serves to strengthen that connection, which is what turns a “lead” into an acquaintance, or even a friend.
The important thing to remember is that networking is simply relationship building. It is necessary to establish a meaningful connection if you want to keep a contact’s acquaintance over the long term. Approach networking from the standpoint of making friends instead of “making contacts”, and you will likely be much more successful.
Good luck and for additional assistance, contact Kioshana LaCount at firstname.lastname@example.org.