Networking Tips for Shy People
It’s true, not everyone loves the art of networking. In fact, many people approach the subject with little to no knowledge and extreme discomfort. People with more introverted personalities or who are simply shy often have a hard time trying to connect with others in their industry since they feel so out of place or awkward at a networking event. But networking is an important part of a successful job search. How can you get out in your community to meet new people if the entire idea makes you want to hide in a corner? Here are a few tips to help the shy professional network more effectively.
- Be helpful. If you’re shy about networking, you may find yourself unable to approach a relative stranger and ask them for something. You may not feel like you’re worth talking to or that you don’t have anything to offer. But you can turn this around and focus on the ways you can help someone and be of service. This is not just in a job capacity, but how you can connect them to others or offer assistance. Being helpful makes you memorable.
- Offer to volunteer. Intimidation is common when you’re shy, and a loud room full of outgoing people can be terrifying. But you can avoid some of this awkwardness if you feel like you have a purpose. Before an event, reach out to the organizer to see if they need volunteer help. This will provide you a job to do and a way to feel useful, but also give you a chance to talk to people you might otherwise not meet.
- Arrive early. By the time an event is in full swing, you’ll notice small groups have already formed. And inserting yourself into these groups might make your stomach a little queasy. To avoid this, arrive early and challenge yourself to start up conversations with other early birds. These networkers may feel as awkward as you do, so it can be a good ice breaker.
- Know your limitations. Here’s the thing, being shy or introverted is not a personality flaw. It’s simply the way your brain is wired and that’s perfectly fine. You don’t have to shoehorn yourself into an experience that makes you uncomfortable just because it’s the thing everyone does. Don’t push yourself beyond your breaking point. Start small by collecting just a couple business cards and calling it a night. Then be sure to follow up with them.
- Use social media. There is one area where an introvert can shine, and that’s online. But you can leverage this to your advantage. Take some time to become familiar with a professional social networking platform, like LinkedIn, and begin building your connections there. You can use this network to expand your reach, communicate to people in your community, and find new opportunities for the future.