The hardest part of looking for a job for a majority of individuals is networking at an event.
For some, it is easy and comes naturally. For others, it is a painful endeavor and to go to a networking event brings panic and anxiety.
The interesting thing about me is that I am an introvert. Tests I have taken say that I get along with everyone and that networking comes naturally to me. Well, it doesn’t. It takes a great deal of time to earn my trust, and I have a very difficult time talking to individuals I don’t know.
I know what you are saying. I am a recruiter. I am a sales person. I sell every day. How in the world can I be successful in my field if I am an introvert? The truth is I work very hard at it every day. Although it doesn’t come natural to me, I have managed to become a really good networker.
Just because you are an introvert, does not mean you CAN NOT NETWORK. There are just a few things you can do to make networking easier. Trust me, I know what I am talking about. Here are 7 things you can do to help you network effectively if it does not come naturally.
- Do your research. One thing that comes naturally to an introvert is finding out the people you need to speak with in your job hunt. Don’t get overwhelmed by feeling you have to speak with everyone. Find the right people you need to speak with and make sure you have a conversation. Do your homework before the event.
- Realize not everyone is an extrovert & find people like you. If you aren’t finding the people you researched at the event, take a big breath! You know the old saying “there is someone for everyone”? Some people are exactly like me, while others are very different. If you are an introvert, chances are you will gravitate to other introverts too. There will be someone who feels exactly like you do and have the same interests that you have at events. If you find yourself having a good conversation and “connect” with someone, really get to know them and stay in touch. For me, I would rather have made 5 really good connections than have collected 50 business cards.
- Focus on networking in small groups rather than large groups. If you are like me, large groups are often very difficult to navigate. I get overwhelmed and feel very anxious. When I am at an event with lots of attendees, I seek out a smaller group. I engage with a group of 2-3 rather than a circle of 8-10. I feel like I can talk with others and get to know them better. Introverts always prefer small groups to large groups.
- Introverts can be seen as very intense individuals. I know this all too well. One way I deal with this is to smile. It is really hard for someone to be unkind if you have a smile on your face. A warm smile brings out the best in people and disarms them. You will be more approachable if you seem relaxed and comfortable. Trust me, this works.
- Watch your body language. Don’t have your arms crossed or have your eyes glued to your cell phone. No one will want to talk to you. Look people in the eyes, give a firm handshake, and give them their personal space. When you do these things, you will appear confident and you will have better results from the networking event. People will have no idea whether you are an introvert or extrovert.
- Listen to them. Let’s be honest, everyone likes talking about themselves. Make those you are networking with feel important by asking engaging questions about them. Listen intently to what they have to say. Be present and make them feel important. People will naturally gravitate to you even if you are in introvert.
- Talk to them about Next Steps. I am a bottom line guy. Introverts are often detail oriented and this is actually a good thing at a networking event. “I will call you Friday” shows your interest and also helps speed up the process. If you don’t like networking, this is a great way to get what you want out of the meeting. Both of you agree on what to do next.
Hopefully this helps you. We are all wired differently. We all engage with people differently. Networking is an essential part of your job hunt. Effective and efficient networkers will find the right jobs and others will not.
I challenge you if you are an introvert to do these 7 things and your job hunt will be much more successful.