The thought of networking often strikes terror in the hearts of job seekers, but even more so for those of us that are particularly shy or introverted. But it doesn’t have to be! Every person at one time or another dreads a networking event during their job search, so know that it’s not just you. However, it is true that some people are simply naturally shy or even have social anxiety.
Regardless of the cause of your shyness, it’s important that you don’t completely forgo networking during your job search. So for you introverts, here are nine networking tips to shake your shyness:
1. Set some goals.
Going into an event or meeting doesn’t have to seem quite as daunting when you have a few goals prepared. Whether you’d like to network with a certain number of people, hand out your business card, or find out a specific piece of information, having a goal going into a networking event helps you feel more focused.
2. Go with a friend or colleague.
Like any social event, going with someone you know takes some of the pressure off. Your friend or colleague may know people you don’t and vice versa, automatically doubling your network at the event. It also makes it a bit more comfortable when going up to new people.
3. Start with small groups.
Once you attend an event or meeting with your friend or colleague, starting small still helps to get you in your networking groove. Situations often seem less threatening when with a smaller group of people. Then you can really get to know everyone and have more one-on-one time.
4. Don’t forget to use online networking tools.
When all else fails (or seems too daunting), don’t forget that social networking websites like Twitter and LinkedIn are great ways to start a new connection. You can figure out who is best to network with, make initial contact, and then prepare for a one-on-one meeting or phone call.
5. Get to events earlier, rather than later.
The great thing about getting to an event early is that you can acclimate yourself to the setting and slowly meet people as they arrive. Otherwise, you’re forced into a new scene all at once, which can be much more overwhelming.
6. When all else fails, ask people about themselves.
If you’re feeling awkward or unsure of where to go next in a conversation with a new contact, try asking a question about their a life. Obviously, don’t get too personal. But people like to talk about themselves, so you never know when you might find common ground and even make a friend.