Did you know that introverts can be great networkers? They just go about networking in a different mode than the extrovert, and since a lot of the advice you see on networking for your career seems to be geared toward those extroverts, the combination of introvert/networking has to be redefined.
Search Engine Journal usually is a site visited by marketers and webmasters, those interested in tech-savvy networking of the internet kind. But a recent article by Mindy Weinstein looks at 5 Networking Tips for the Tech-Savvy and Introverted, because even internet gurus have to do interpersonal networking for their career.
Use Your Strengths To Advantage
Many in the tech industries are introverted because the strengths of the introvert work well in this innovative, complex, problem-solving field. The problems most introverts have with standard networking advice is that it goes against their natural tendency to take things at a slower pace and process what is happening. It’s like being at a crowded all-you-can-eat buffet when you want to savor each bite in a quieter setting.
Once you understand your strengths, it’s a lot easier to prioritize the way you will do the networking that is so necessary in your career. These tips are a compilation of the advice given by successfully tech-savvy introverts to the rest of us:
Pick and choose your networking events. Plan on only attending a select few and maximize your efforts by inviting those you connect with to a follow-up meeting.
Be one of the first to arrive. This allows you to meet people at a slower pace and you know that the people who choose to sit by you are friendly, right?
Don’t work the room. Your goal is to meet a few people instead of everybody there. Success is connecting, not touching.
Ask questions to uncover someone’s story. Have an idea of the questions you want to ask, and share about yourself since this isn’t an interrogation. Introverts are great listeners, so use this strength to your advantage.
Find out more about attendees before you go to the event. This helps in a couple of ways; you can think about what you’d like to ask, and you can connect before the event on social media if it’s appropriate. Then the networking event is a chance to meet someone you have already interacted with online.
Some of us are more natural at networking than others, but we all need to be part of a supportive network. The idea of networking is really that of support. If networking isn’t working for you, then maybe you need to change the way you do networking. Is networking working for you? If it is, your career is being cultivated and it will grow.
Networking is one of those activities that gets shelved because you are busy. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those activities that needs to be consistent in order to do any good to your career. This is because the nature of networking is relationships, and if you only connect with people when you need them, you are viewed in a negative light. You also miss out on a lot of positive things when you don’t connect, so it’s a good idea to put it on your schedule.
If LinkedIn Is A Garden, It Has Weeds
One of the most productive professional networking sites available today is LinkedIn, but that success means that there’s spam — the weeds of the web. It gets overwhelming if you don’t do a little maintenance every day. Since the average professional on the site gets far more stuff sent to them than they want, your contact attempts can get lost in the spam weeds.
Use the tools available to you and start with your profile. How do you rank? Who’s looking at your profile? Do you share any interests other than a career category? Think hobbies, non-profits you support, and anything that you share with those names and reach out on a personal level to turn the name into a person for both of you. This connection keeps you from being seen as one more weedy spam item choking their inbox.
Cultivate Connections For Growth
People are living things; they grow and change and need regular maintenance. Since networking is all about people, it makes sense that there’s a need for regular maintenance in this area. You don’t need to spend a lot of time on this, but even 10 or 15 minutes a day checking your LinkedIn page and deliberately reaching out to one person in your network on a personal level will keep that connection healthier.
As you develop these professional relationships by becoming acquainted personally, you lay the groundwork for a mutually beneficial networking experience.
In spite of the demonstrated value of networking as a primary job search technique, many people have a very hard time grasping the concept. They may recognize its value for other people, yet they do not think that they have the personal characteristics to put it all together. If you consider yourself one of the “nervous networkers”, you also probably think of yourself as a shy person, or at least around people that you do not know well, but you could find yourself under one or more incorrect myths surrounding networking. Myth – Networking only works for outgoing brown-nosers. Fact – People who are more inclined to strike up a conversation may feel more comfortable using networking than their more introverted counterparts, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are any better. Introverted people typically have very valuable gifts at their disposal – such as the capacity to listen well, ask thorough questions and succeed at follow-ups. Plus, networking becomes much easier the more you work at it. Like many emotional or mental challenges, it takes some time before you’re completely comfortable. Most of the energy is spent at the beginning – making the first couple of phone calls and setting up your initial meetings. But, as you gather momentum, it becomes much easier. Your networking may start off as a snowball, but once it gets rolling, it turns into an avalanche. Before contacting anyone, remind yourself that networking is an essential part of finding a job in today’s America. Myth – Only desperate and under-qualified people have to network.People who are good at their jobs can get them the traditional way, through only job boards or job listing ads. Fact – Everyone has to look for employment throughout their careers. When you start off you did not immediately have a job, you had to look around and ask friends if they knew of anything. Many people go through this process several times. Smart and savvy jobseekers know that many of the best positions are not actively advertised and that highly qualified applicants put a lot more of their energy into networking than browsing the want ads. Networking is a smart way to find a job. Myth – It’s embarrassing to go around asking people for a job. Fact – Everyone has done it. It may be embarrassing at the moment, but it won’t be when you get that first pay check. The purpose of networking is not to beg. It’s not even to ask for a job. You don’t start networking expecting a job just to fall in your lap. You go in to learn about the position, the people and the company in your area. Myth – Networkers are imposing on the people they ask. Fact – If everyone was imposed on when they were asked for a job, no one would ever volunteer a position to their friends and colleagues. Many people that you will ask got their job through networking. They may have felt like they were imposing but they did what they had to do to find a job, just like you should.
Don’t count networking out as a viable job search technique. It may put you in the right spot at the right time.