Networking for the Shy

If you’re a shy or introverted type of person, or you become that way in some situations, you probably feel in the minority in our extrovert-dominated culture. And you’re being advised to “network, network, network” in your job search, but your image of this is that you’re going to have to completely change your personality to do so.


Not so! Sure, it does help if you are sociable and initiate contact, but even extroverts get the butterflies. So what can you, the shy or introverted person, do?


First: Your mindset

Remember that networking DOES help you get around hurdles in your job search, so doing some outreach will only help you. Remember what it was like to learn how to drive, and how awkward it was at first? Yet you badly wanted the independence and status it would give you, so you went through the pain of learning and practicing, and got good at it. It’s the same with networking: a bit awkward at first but after a few tries, you’ll feel much more comfortable.


Some things to do

  1. Start small, building one success on top of another. Don’t start by thinking, “I’m going to walk right up to Jack Welch and introduce myself”, but instead, choose another lone person in the room and approach him/her. He/she will be grateful and will probably greet you warmly! Approach groups only if you are expected to or if you know someone in the group.
  2. Focus on the other person. Ask them questions and really listento the answers. If the other person isn’t working right now, what are some of their target companies? If they areworking, what do they like most about their job? How did they get to this point in their career? What’s new and exciting in their field? If it’s horrible weather out, take advantage of it and comment on that, as an icebreaker. If you’ve read something recently that they’d be interested in, mention it and follow up with them with a link to the article.
  3. Volunteer to work at the sign-in table at events. This way you’ll get to meet everyone as they come in, one-on-one.
  4. Join small groups or committees, whether they’re job search-related or not. You never know who you’ll get talking with and who might say “Get me a copy of your resume”.
  5. If you find that someone wants to meet another person in the room and you know them, introduce the two of them. They will be forever in your debt.
  6. Follow up and stay in touch. Catching up with a contact at your next professional organization meeting is an effective (and efficient) way of staying in touch.
  7. Publish an article or make a speech. Sometimes people feel all right about speaking if their notes are prepared, so if that’s the case for you, do it. Afterward, people will approach you to talk. Publishing articles will also generate speaking engagements.

So give those a try, and let me know how you do!


Leave a Comment

Blog Archive