Networking for Introverts
Do you feel overwhelmed when asked to present in front of a group? Does the thought of meeting new people and putting yourself out there make you anxious? After a long day of socializing, do you feel drained and exhausted? If these traits apply to you as they do for me, you would consider yourself an introvert. Defined by the article, “What is an Introvert” on introvertspring.com, an introvert is someone who is “interested in one’s own thoughts rather than the physical environment.” They develop their strength through “calm, minimally stimulating environments.” While the negative stigmatism surrounding introverts is that we are standoffish, this is most certainly not the case. Introverted qualities include a “ love of introspection, a need for solitude, and a slower, more focused communication style.” After taking all of this into consideration, we are then able to present our best selves to others in social settings.
When it comes to the workforce, these characteristics prove extremely beneficial as employees who are self-reflective and attentive will produce effective results. Now how about the process of actually landing the job? Introverts may be at a slight disadvantage with all the networking events, conferences, and interviews that go into getting that dream job offer. However, there are many ways to combat the stress of meeting new people and being in unnatural situations.
Something very important to remember is that networking is simply meeting new people. Think about a time you’ve met new friends. Obviously, you had to work at that friendship; maybe connecting came easily, or maybe you had to spend time together to see if you had common interests. When encountering recruiters, imagine that they are a new friend to make. According to an article published by Forbes in 2014, it is crucial to “build rapport and trust that business will happen.” Try to refrain from putting so much pressure on meeting a recruiter. When making new friendships, you don’t think “Wow if this doesn’t work out I’ll never meet another friend.” So, try to develop an optimistic and confident mindset before attending networking events. Stay calm and collected while remembering that these individuals are just people too.
Preparing for an event is equally as important as performing highly once you are there. One tactic I find very helpful is writing down what I would like to say to recruiters, my goals of what I hope to get out of the experience, and encouraging statements to inspire myself. These do not have to be long paragraphs, just bullet points of questions to ask or phrases of your personal statement that will leave a positive impression on those you meet. Reviewing these notes beforehand will leave you much more confident. This will help alleviate the stress you feel when asked a question on the spot. Additionally, this introspection will assist us in identifying what we truly desire out of a networking session, therefore leading us to ask more direct questions in order to achieve specific results. These desired results could include an internship, externship, or even an invitation to the company’s next event.
As introverts, we are more concerned with deepening relationships than having as many friends as possible. This is a terrific character to have when meeting future employers! They want to add committed, dedicated people to their team who feel a sense of obligation to their company. In the same article published by Forbes, the author states that you should “focus on making just a few solid connections. People can sense when you’re simply speaking to them to grab their card and go.” I for one definitely feel the pressure of “it’s all about who you know” when getting a job; however, even if you have 50 random connections, these will not lead you anywhere in your professional career if you have not worked to develop true relationships with a few of these individuals. This is also an added benefit for you as the job-seeker. Why introduce yourself to many employees at companies you have no desire of working for? Seek out those businesses you see yourself thriving at, have a meaningful conversation with those recruiters, and your passion will be apparent.
Networking events and conferences can be long and strenuous for anyone, so it is completely okay to take breaks! Get a drink, refresh at the bathroom, or take a walk outside before reentering. An online article published by Businessese in 2017 states that “Crowds can be overstimulating and disrupt focus,” so this alone time is truly beneficial and will leave you recharged and ready to go back into the event. Remember this the next time you attend Business Horizons; it is a perfect event where introverts can feel drained and only want to hide in the background as I did. Step out of the room and recollect your thoughts. Even a few minutes away will help you feel rejuvenated and ready to tackle to next conversation!
Looking around at all the other attendees at networking sessions may seem discouraging if they seem to know what they’re doing, but everyone gets nervous when it comes to meeting employers, not just introverts! Our unique character traits will help us in the long run to find those meaningful relationships that lead to our dream job. While the entire job search process is stressful and requires you to be in situations you are not used to, introverts can use their qualities to their advantage. No longer look at introversion as a setback; always remember to show your best and most authentic self to recruiters, as this is the person who will show up to work every day.