Networking for those who tend to live on the shy side of meeting and greeting people can be energy-draining in a typical year when the holidays approach. We all know that career growth and discovering job opportunities are built on relationships. Developing rapport is part of the job search process, but it does not have to be as painful as some imagine.
For job candidates who are uncomfortable networking, especially this year with COVID-19 risks, you might think networking has been severely changed. The truth is networking is alive and well. Introverts tend to feel more comfortable carrying on conversations one to one, making them more personal. Even though our social patterns of connecting have been altered this year, it could be a more comfortable networking season for an introvert.
To make the most of a new holiday season, an introvert needs to fully grasp what is behind networking – building relationships. The key is to connect with those you know first and those that could help you.
Relationships underscore networking. It is the power behind the concept. The best time to meet people is when everyone shares a common interest combined with an atmosphere of celebrating the holiday season.
Holidays can be a great time of the year to practice meeting people and getting comfortable with starting conversations. Yet it would help introverts if they overcame some of the misconceptions attached to networking such as “schmoozing.”
Schmoozing is typically defined as “chatting in a friendly way to gain favor, business, or connections.” One of the reasons you might dread networking is the notion you need to meet people if you lose your job or need one.
Seeing networking as schmoozing can take away every ounce of motivation and, if you are introverted, keep you from reaching out. Few people enjoy being sought after with a “what can I get from you” attitude. The good news for introverts is that schmoozing is a one-sided view of networking and is the opposite of relating to one another. Always keep in mind that good networking is a shared combination of needs and wants.
Here are six tips to help you build confidence and courage when talking with people this holiday season if you are introverted.
- Take small steps towards networking; don’t try to be someone else. Introverts often put a great deal of pressure on themselves by expecting to become an active networker. Talk to someone you know first to build momentum for the next one. Ask people you know to help introduce you. It will help break down the reluctance of meeting new people. Instead of focusing on the absence of large gatherings this year, don’t overlook or assume those you already know would not be helpful.
- The power of networking is in relationships, regardless if online networking is the path that helps you connect. Lose the “I am bothering people” mindset. One of the secrets that introverts carry around is that they are bothering others when they need help.
- Practice connecting with people through small talk and build common interests. Practice starting a conversation before you meet someone. The fear of becoming tongue-tied can add to the anxiety of meeting new people, knowing some conversation starters will help get the rapport established.
- Listening skills are as necessary as the gift of gab. Introverts excel at listening. Keep the conversation balanced with an exchange of information. If you do all the listening, you will likely come away knowing more about the other person than sharing what you do.
- Be mindful that you have what it takes to build relationships. Focus on helping to put others at ease rather than getting caught up in your uncomfortableness.
- Build upon your conversations by following up with people you know. While everyone has their networking style, the most successful networkers share one thing in common: they follow up once they have made a good connection. They do not let their efforts go by the wayside.
How will networking be different for you during the holidays this year?