Networking as an Introvert
As an introvert, I have found it hard to network with people in general. It is not that I do not want to create connections with people or that I am not interested in opportunities that people may offer me, I’m just really shy! It can be crippling sometimes to try to reach out to people and feel like you are a bother to them. To ask for contact information from people you admire can feel overwhelming sometimes. The idea that people actually want to talk to you can seem too good to be true. It is a tedious and vicious cycle of anxiety, overthinking, and the eventual loss of contact.
However, I have learned that there are little habits that can help alleviate this anxiety and prove to others that you are indeed worthy of the opportunities offered to you. It’s not an overnight cure to gain self-confidence, but with practice and improvement, I have become more skilled at networking with people and maintaining the relationships that I cultivate.
Write their contact information: It is easy to say to yourself, “I will look them up on LinkedIn later” but there is a good chance that you may forget to look them up or they may no longer be as active on a site like that. If someone offers their personal email address or a more direct way to contact them, write it down. This way you have a record of the information somewhere accessible and it has been shown that when you write information down you are more likely to remember it.
Add contacting the person to a to-do list: It may seem silly, but this can really help. If you made it a point to say to yourself, “ok, today I am going to email that speaker I met at that event” you will feel more inclined to reach out. It is easy when you are an introvert to assume everyone is too busy. However, if you just send the email and don’t expect an immediate response, at least you reached out. Reaching out, for some, is the hardest part and if you make it a goal it is easier to accomplish.
Update them often as to how your job search is going: If you have gotten into contact with a person who has shown interest in your career journey and they have given you support, feel free to let them know how you’re doing. Now don’t do this every day or every week, but every so often reach out when you want to say thank you because you’ve reached a milestone. Let them know that you appreciated them helping you whether you got into contact with someone they recommended or you took their advice and nailed the interview. People feel less bothered when they feel like you are comfortable keeping in touch with them to let them know they are appreciated.
Get a HiWave sticker: This is a very useful tool when you’re networking and you may not have a pen and paper on hand. This sticker is connected to an app that goes on your phone where you can save links to your contact information like your email address, phone number, and your various social media accounts. Exchanging this information not only allows you to get in contact with a peer or professional but also allows the person you are networking with to have your contact information as well. This reciprocation of information can help build rapport between you and it makes the exchange of information quickly. No need for awkwardly opening your notes app and writing the info down or asking if someone has a pen and paper, it’s all done at the scan and press of a button.
These are just a few of the habits I have practiced to network as an introvert. When you have practiced these habits and incorporated them into your networking process, it makes it so much easier to maintain these new connections. Keep up the good work and don’t be afraid to reach out!