Confessions Of An Introvert: Networking Tips

Based on the Myer Briggs Type Indicator, I am an INTJ and I’m proud of it.

INTJ stands for introversion, intuition, thinking and judgement. I must admit, this means that networking does not top my list of favourite things to do. Fellow introverts will understand what I mean.

It is tiring and stressful to make small talk with someone you don’t know. The thought of going to a networking event filled with unfamiliar and intimidating faces is extremely daunting. Post-networking event, it is discouraging to have made no connections, or only superficial connections with potential employers.

Unfortunately for many introverts, networking is an essential part of a successful job search and career. You can send out 1000 perfect resumes and cover letters, but the person that has made a genuine, in-person connection with a company is nearly always more likely to land the interview and the job.

The good news is that introverts often have great intuition and judgement skills that they can put to use to make genuine contacts. These skills in combination with networking preparation can turn introverts into pro-networkers. Here are a few tips that have made networking less painful and more successful for me.

Do your research

Before going to a networking event, research the companies and people you are interested in talking to. Make a list of talking points. Don’t be afraid to write them down to glance at while you are trying to make conversation.

Invest research time into one or two events a month, rather than skimming the surface at many events.

Conduct informational interviews

Informational interviews are my favourite way to network. Informational interviews consist of making contact with a company or person whose career you are interested in. Ask them to meet you one-on-one for coffee or lunch for a set period of time (probably no more than half an hour; make sure you stick to this time limit during your meeting!).

Info interviews allow you to bring a large list of well-prepared questions, ensuring there are no awkward silences. You won’t need to compete with a room full of people; often the most intimidating part of networking.

Give the interviewee your resume at the end of interview, but don’t pester them about hiring you or passing on your resume. If they are interested, they will get in touch. Follow up with a thank-you email!

The best network connections I have made were through informational interviews. Even though I was anxious to sit down one-on-one with someone I didn’t know, I always felt great after the interview and have maintained connection with the interviewee.

My final tip for informational interviewing is to make contact with someone who is relatively new to their career. They’ll understand where you are coming from and will be more likely to relate with you and your educational background.

Start online

LinkedIn and Twitter are great ways to make network connections. Online portals are also a great way to learn about networking events. I find it much easier to make a genuine in-person connection with someone I’ve connected with online. After learning about a networking event online, you can make a point to let an online connection know that you will meet up with them in-person at an event.

Practice, practice, practice and practice more

If you really don’t like making small talk with people you don’t know, the best solution it to make small talk with people you don’t know. Chat up the check-out person at the grocery store, ask the barista how their weekend was. You’ll slowly gain more confidence and conversation ability that will translate well to networking events.

So where do you fall? Are you an introvert or extrovert? If you’re an introvert, how do you navigate the networking game? Tell us in the comments below!

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