Networking when Shy

How to Network if You are on the Shy side

I am the first to admit that networking with a bunch of strangers is not easy when you are shy. Early in my career, I was in sales (seriously) and would literally have to force myself to cold call. It was daily torture. I finally admitted to myself that maybe I was in the wrong field, and no, it was not hereditary (many family members were in sales). I was never that suave, chatty, BS’er-type that seemed to dominate my lineage.
Networking when you are shy is worse than a root canal.
I understand this first hand. So, when you would rather scrub your toilet then walk into a company that has never heard of you, here are a few different things you can do to help you cope with and overcome this predicament.
1) Join LinkedIn. The fabulous benefit of LinkedIn is that you can literally cold call without ever having to be face-to-face with a living being. Simply look up a company in the directory and send your resume to whoever is in charge. How easy was that?? Now, what I would really advise would be to find someone in your network, or one of your connection’s network, and ask them for the name of someone first. Then send that person an email and begin a dialogue. I can go on and on about LinkedIn. Most of you know I am obsessed with it. If you would like to know more, send me an email go here.
2) Join a Local Business Organization. The beauty of a joining a local organization (either business or volunteer) is two-fold. Or maybe tri-fold. Is that a word? Yes, but for a closet door. Anyway, I will make it work in this situation.
A- You can go and sit at a table and have a nice breakfast/lunch/dinner where minimal attention will be paid to you (unless you stand up and introduce yourself, and c’mon you can do that) and still get to know the organization, feel productive, and get excited because you got out of your comfort zone.
Once you are in that comfy place, you will start talking with people and slowly begin making new contacts/acquaintances/friends that you wouldn’t have made sitting at home in front of your computer posting your resume on the useless
C- Now that you are talking with people, you can tell them what you do for a living, find out what they do and see if you connect anywhere.
On a personal note: I joined my local Optimists organization when I got out of college and worked for the career center as a Career Counselor. Within a year of initiation, they recruited me to be President of our Chapter, which encompassed two cities. Talk about being nervous… (but that was with public speaking, and I had to get over it quick… that is a whole different story).
Let me tell you though, the contacts I made during that time were with professionals I still talk with to this day.
3) Tell everyone you know that you are job searching. Even if you are embarrassed about it or don’t want anyone to know that either you lost your job or your job is in jeopardy, or whatever the case may be, tell them. People like to help and you really never know who may know someone that you need to know. The stories my clients tell me about who helped them get their jobs are always priceless. Your dry cleaner? Your mail person? Your colleague? Yes, I’ve heard of all these great stories and more.
Networking is the #1 way to get a job, so even if it hurts a little, get out there and tell them who you are.