Q: I am an introvert. I am nervous about looking for a new job. I have been told “networking is key.” Or my coach tells me “get out there.” Honestly, I break out in a sweat when someone mentions networking. I could never be a politician. How does an introvert network?
A: How does an introvert network? One connection at a time!
Networking does not have to be walking into a group of 100 people. Here is a good strategy for introverts.
- Select a small group of colleagues and friends. Ask them to meet for coffee, lunch or a walk outside. Be ready with your pitch (a one-minute summary of who you are and what you are looking for). Start with people who you trust. Ask them for feedback. Then expand your group.
- Add contacts on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is not a substitute for face-to-face networking. However, many of us are active on LinkedIn and use it almost daily. It is a good way to keep in touch with others and to see what others are posting. Some of us post and share jobs frequently. If someone accepts your invite, that might be a good time to suggest a meeting to enjoy a cup of coffee.
- Attend a networking event with a friend. It is easier to walk into a group when you have a wingman/woman. Sometimes walking in alone can be intimidating. The first time is the hardest. It becomes easier with practice. Typically networking events are very welcoming.
- Join me! On Friday, November 22, 2019, I am speaking at Acton Networkers. This group is outstanding. Check out actonnetworkers.com. The last time I presented to this group was probably four years ago. I think they had over 150 attending (which can be frightening if you are introvert). However, I can confirm that they are a warm and welcoming group.
- Re-connect with your college or university. Contact their career services and find out what events are offered.
- Attend events within your industry. Again, it is easier to walk in with a colleague. But you also may run into someone also in attendance.
I think introverts may struggle more with the concept of networking vs. actual networking. I find most introverts do really well networking one-on-one, which should not be surprising. Use that to your advantage. Networking is not about meeting 300 contacts at once. It is more about meeting one meaningful connection at a time. Oh, and after you land, keep networking. Building a strong professional network is one of the best ways to remain gainfully employed!
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.