As a person who considers themself to be an introvert, just the idea of walking into a room of people to shake hands and talk business makes my palms sweat. Every professor, boss, or advice-giving uncle is going to tell you that networking is key- it’s all about who you know. According to a LinkedIn research study, in 2016, 70 percent of new employees were hired at a company where they already had connections. Referred applicants are more likely to be hired than those who applied online.
The internet is a blessing to an introvert. You can conduct almost all conversations over email or text message. You can apply to positions, resign from positions, and exist as a full-time employee without much in-person communication. Introverts, we may be comfy behind our screens but we are missing out!
Networking will always be important, so for the socially anxious, here are a few tactics that can make the process a little bit easier.
While you’re home and relaxed, take the time to prepare your pitch- plan a whole speech if you need to. Make a list of your relevant experience and think up a few things to say about each position, what was the most difficult aspect, what did you learn? If you have something in mind, it will take the pressure off the in-person conversation.
2. Fight the negativity
It’s easy to let yourself spiral thinking about everything that could go wrong. Soon, you’ve convinced yourself the whole thing will be a disaster. Take a second to check back in. If you decide that this networking event is going to go poorly for you, odds are it will. It might sound corny but if you sit in your car, take a deep breath, and remain optimistic it will make a big difference.
3. Be patient
It’s not likely that after one conversation you’ll be hired on the spot for your dream job. Leaving the event without a job offer does not make the experience a failure. You’ve done the hard part of shaking hands and making an introduction, now you have to follow up. Make sure that when a position opens up, they remember you. It’s a process, you have to be patient.
It’s going to take practice. Be prepared to pitch yourself, focus on intentional positivity, and know that networking can happen anywhere. In an elevator, over a cup of coffee, it won’t always be so formal and nerve-wracking! If you’re qualified and confident in your abilities that will reflect in your conversations.