No matter what your job or field is, networking can be an important part of developing your career. However, for people who are introverted or shy, networking can feel particularly challenging and burdensome. Networking events are great for those who are interested in lighter conversation and chatting with a lot of different people, but if that’s not quite your speed there are plenty of other ways to get to know people professionally. Below, we’ve shared some tips and advice on networking when you’re introverted or shy.
Take It One at a Time
Is there someone in the community who you admire, or whom you’d just like to get to know professionally? Reach out and invite them to meet with you for coffee or over Zoom. Don’t be discouraged if someone says no. People are busy and it can be hard to take extra time out of their schedule for individual meetings, but there’s nothing wrong with asking, and they may reach back out in the future.
Informational interviews are a great way to get to know more about a field, organization, or job. Try finding a particular person at an organization who you’d like to get to know, and ask if they’d be willing to do an informational interview with you. One of the benefits of this solution is that you have the opportunity to prepare questions to ask beforehand, so you won’t have to have as much concern over what you’re going to talk about.
Phone a Friend
Having a mutual connection can make getting to know people much easier. If you have a friend who’s more extroverted, or knows a lot of people in the community, they can be great at helping you feel more comfortable and can help facilitate introductions at networking events.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family members if they know anyone they can introduce you to via email.
Find the Right Event
Whether you’re naturally shy, or just trying to get back out there after a lack of in-person events during the pandemic, it may not make sense to jump right back in by going to a large conference. Look for local, small events where there will be just a handful of people. Attending something like a brunch can be a great way to meet just a few people without having the pressure of needing to move around and join a lot of different conversations.
Network for Life Too
Don’t limit yourself to just going to career-related networking events. Meetup and Facebook can be great places to find local events and groups. By bonding with people over mutual interests, not only may you make new friends, but you’ll also expand the network of people and industries that you have connections in.
Know Your Limits
The honest truth is that networking isn’t for everyone. Some people really enjoy it, while for others it can be mentally and emotionally draining. If you find yourself in the latter category, don’t try and force yourself to go to big networking events, or try to get a ton of connections on LinkedIn. As outlined in this post, there are plenty of ways to network and meet new people. While it is true that finding a job is often about, “who you know,” you can still take the approach of quality over quantity by focusing on making meaningful relationships and connections with a handful of trusted people.