Like it or not, networking is critical to your career success. The ability to develop and maintain contacts and personal connections with a variety of people leads to increased business opportunities, more job possibilities and long-term relationships. But … it comes easier to some than others. As an extrovert myself, I find it fairly easy to attend events, initiate conversations, and keep the dialogues and relationships going. But I am very aware that there are many among us who dread the thought of networking!
Which is why I found myself very interested in a conversation I happened to have last week with a professional colleague. Somewhere in our exchange, she confided to me that she’s an introvert. Surprised, I uttered the first thought that came to my mind. “You’re such a good networker, I never would have thought you to be an introvert,” I exclaimed. “It’s true,” she said. “I loathe talking to strangers, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t like being in groups of people either.” As I stared at her with raised eyebrows, she continued on to tell me how she has found ways to network that fit her style as an introvert. So for those amongst you who find yourself in the same dilemma, I thought you might want to hear about two specific things she does to overcome her natural aversion to networking.
- When she goes to events, she focuses on individuals rather than groups. By seeking to have a few meaningful one-on-one conversations rather than interacting with groups of people, she’s able to make networking fit her introverted style.
- Because she’s naturally shy, she uses LinkedIn to initiate or continue relationships. If there is someone she wants to connect with, she looks them up on LinkedIn and sends them a connection request, saying a little bit about herself, and if applicable, how they met or know each other. Getting things started online is not as stressful as face-to-face.
So if you’re someone who dislikes the traditional definition of networking (or even if you’re not), what are some of your ideas to get past the fear and aversion and make it work for you and your career? We all want to know!