Introverts are individuals who greatly value time by themselves so that their energy is restored – especially after an entire day of being around others. In general, they think before they speak, need time to process information they have heard, select friends carefully, enjoy privacy, are very observant of people and circumstances, and enjoy one-on-one conversations rather than large crowds. For many introverts, networking can appear to be intimidating at first glance, however, with strategy and a solid game plan, introverts can be just as successful as extroverts in their ability to network with professionals.
Strategy #1 – Think, Write, Practice!
In order to prepare to speak to professionals in career fields that interest you, you do not always have to do this spontaneously without preparation. Instead, take time to write out your personal “pitch” that will tell someone about yourself in a short amount of time, while highlighting the most relevant information about yourself. For instance:
“Hi, I’m _____, a senior majoring in Communication and am seeking a full-time position in the field of public relations. For the past few years, I have worked at UGA’s student newspaper, the Red & Black, where I worked in several capacities including editing, photography and advertising sales. Through this experience and other leadership roles, I have gained a good understanding of what it takes to be successful in PR.I feel using social media effectively as a business is crucial and would be interested in learning more about your social media coordinator role. Taken from the UGA Career Guide
After writing out your pitch, practice, practice, practice. First, you could begin by practicing alone, looking in a mirror to observe your natural mannerisms. Secondly, you could practice with a friend or family member to gain their perspective and any advice they may have for improvement. Thirdly, you can practice your pitch with a Career Consultant at the UGA Career Center – to make an appointment, call 706.542.3375. Finally, practice your pitch with a professional in a career field of interest – informational interview, career fair, etc.
Strategy #2 – Be Observant: Who Is Already In Your Network?
Who in your immediate circle of friends and family knows someone in the career that interests you? While extroverts may be energized by forming new relationships with strangers, introverts enjoy meeting people who are already connected with them in some way. As you begin your career exploration, ask family and friends about who they know in that career field. Keep a list of names, emails, and phone numbers so that you can reach out to these professionals when you feel best prepared.
Strategy #3 – Be Focused & Intentional
When in large networking settings, introverts CAN be successful by focusing and being intentional about building relationships with professionals in a one-on-one way. Here are a few tips when attending large events:
- Know before you go which professionals/organizations are coming to the event
- Map out who you would like to talk with 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.
- Approach professionals with confidence and use your pitch in your introduction
- This is not about performing, it is about enjoying a mutual conversation: The professional wants to get to know you, and you want to get to know the professional and their organization
- Focus on the professional and try not to be distracted by others around you – solid eye contact and listening skills are key
- Enjoy the large group setting for a while, and then find time to be alone to recharge your energy
Strategy #4 – Practice, Practice, Practice!
While you continue growing in your verbal networking ability, utilize your written strengths to get in touch with professionals through LinkedIn or email. Networking verbally may be challenging for many introverts at first, but with intentional practice of how to build one-on-one relationships, it will get easier with time. So don’t sweat it! Take some time to begin implementing this game plan to help you feel less intimidated. For additional assistance or practice, be sure to schedule an appointment to meet with your UGA Career Consultant by calling 706.542.3375. Remember, you too can be a successful networker!
– Posted by Suzanne Voigt, Career Consultant