ot everyone was built to be the center of attention--in fact, it’s estimated that between 30 and 50% of professionals in the workforce are introverted. With about half the work force not inclined to be the social butterflies that you would expect in a professional environment, networking can be hard. Once you take that first step, it can be difficult to form those connections with others in the workforce. Despite the challenges that introverts face, they also have skills and traits that are adaptable to make them exceptional networkers.

1. Take Advantage of Online Networking

One thing that introverts have in common is that they are usually more comfortable online. To use that to your advantage, curating a LinkedIn profile that will wow any boss or connection is something that will be key to having an online presence when an in person presence is not ideal.

Something that is becoming increasingly popular in the workforce is the idea of virtual interviews. These are interviews that take place in your home from a computer or tablet. The flexibility that virtual interviews provide is ideal for those who cannot travel, but it also offers a level of comfort to introverts who may prefer and feel more comfortable in their own space.

Creating an online presence in the professional world is becoming more accessible not only to introverts, but to professionals who, for one reason or another, are unable to travel in general. As the world adjusts to a new professional standard, introverts find themselves utilizing their skills relating to “socializing from afar.”

Not only does being yourself make it easy to focus on others around you, but as you start to come out of your shell, connections and professional relationships become easier to form.

2. Don't Cave to Pressure - Be Yourself!

Whether it is online, in person, or via email, an important part of networking is making real connections. These are important for fostering healthy relationships, and the foundation of that is being your authentic self. Virtual interviews giveinterviewsgive you the chance to talk to your interviewer from youryou own turf. Not only does this limit the social interaction that you have, but it also gives you the comfort of being in a familiar setting.

Being yourself while networking is an easy way to ease the expectations of putting on a front or a professional mask. When you are being yourself, you are more comfortable and receptive to new experiences rather than dealing with the anxiety that comes with the socialization of being at an office party or conference.

A little authenticity can go a long way. People always remember the person they met who seemed authentic and engaging. Being yourself and showing this authenticity can help you get a foot in the door in many ways. Most connections that you make start with a simple conversation–it is just a matter of how to start it.

3. Find Low-Stress Ways to Keep in Touch

You often hear the phrase “quality over quantity,”, and in the case of networking, this phrase is accurate to a teeT. There are many people you will meet throughout your professional career that could help open up doors for you. The best part? Keeping in touch with them is almost effortless. Like maintaining friendships, it is important to drop colleagues and work acquaintancesaquaintences a line periodically to ensure there is still a bridge of communication. Take a moment to catch up, share an interesting article or journal about your field, or simply update them on your professional journey.

Of course, reaching out is only half the battle, the other half is being an active listener. As an introvert, one of the most helpful tools you possess is your observation skills. Putting these skills to use periodically is a great way to not only hone in your ability to listen andtp listenand respond, but it allows you to create great relationships at the same time.

Face to face meetings are more personal and a fantastic way to strengthen an already existing relationship!

4. Focus on One-on-One Networking

Most networking happens when you are presented with an opportunity to put yourself outoout there to new people. Unfortunately for introverts, this often means going to functions with people you’ve never met. If possible, try making your connectionsconnectios with others in a one-on-one setting. You could suggest a coffee date, business dinner, or a one-on-one video conference.

Connecting does not always have to be in person and face to facefce for it to be meaningful and professional. Sometimes you can get more done in a single phone call with onlyinly one other person than with hours and hours of meeting with a group of people in person.

Although making connections en masse at parties, retreats, dinners, or other crowded work functions can be quicker, it isn’t always the easiest or most successful way to do so. If you aren'tarent comfortable socializing in a room full of people, having that personal conversation may allow you to open up more and not feel as pressured to act a certain way. It also opens the floor for questions without the risk of being talked over or ignored for another guest.

5. Master the Art of The Follow Up

Did you know that only 10% of interviewed potential employees follow their interview up with a “Thank You?”? While it may seem small, that interview was not only a lot of energy for you, but for your interviewer as well. Showing that you are grateful for the opportunity that is provided can absolutely make a difference. Employers really do notice the effort you putyu put into thank-yous after an interview, and it is the perfect way to build bridges to potential contacts in the field you are or want to be in.

When considering your method of thanking an individual, keep in mind the role you applied or were interviewed for. Are you primarily going to be speaking or writing? Whichever the answer is denotes how you should be sending your thank-you note. Not only is it appropriate in the context, but it gives you another opportunity to show off the skills you have related to the possible job. This way, your potential employer both sees what you are capable of, but your dedication to the interview.

Another fantastic practice to get into the habit of–especially if you are an introvert who does not appreciate large gatherings or excessive attention–is thank you notes. These notes don’t always have to be on cards or paper, a thoughtful email can havehaved the same effect. The real goal here is to strengthen whatever connection was formed at the interview and useusing that to develop your own network of colleagues.

6. Have A Plan

One of the simplest ways to reduce anxiety related to meetings that introvertsintroversts often face is to make a plan for the evening or meeting. Knowing who you want to talk to throughout the night and what you want to say gives you some time to prepare questions and answers you may have. Along with becoming comfortable with asking and responding to questions, plan a way to break into the conversation.

The hardest part of having a conversationaconversation with potential connections is breaking into the conversation. Because this could be hard, Kochie’s BusinessBuisness Builders suggests preparing an icebreaker to help ease the tension of meeting new people. Introverts often have a hard time spontaneously starting a conversation, so having a planned and practiced way to do so can make the entire meeting or conference a little less daunting.

Of course, while you can’t plan for everything, practicing some answers to questions that are commonly asked–especially in interviews–can offer you a way to ensure that you won’t be left without something to say. Knowing that some questions are almost universal to job interviews can take away the anxiety of not knowing what you will be asked. Because it isitis not common for introverts to push to start a conversation, it is a good idea to know how you are going to introduce yourself as well. Pick one or two things or skills that are important to you career wise–these can be goals, skills, or your hopes for the future– and become comfortable introducing yourself.

7. But Don't Be Afraid to Go With the Flow

Just because introverts are not as inclined to be vibrant in social situations does not mean that they are not prepared. Networking is such an important part of being a professional in the workforce that adapting to the situation and adjusting your skills to fit a social situation is more important now than ever. Becoming comfortable in extroverted situations is not only a skill to have that will get you a job, but it also shows your aptitude for blending your skill to fit in with the skills of other potential collaborators.

Practice is everything, and networking is no differentnodifferent. You have to use your skills to form and develop them just like any other muscle.

Networking is not always the easiest thing to do, especially if you are an introvert. But just like everything else, it takes time to develop and strengthen into a strong skill that can be utilizedutikized in any situation it is needed in, regardless of the tension or comfortabilitycomfortablility that the environment provides. These tips will not only help you developyoudevelop your interpersonal skills, but also remind you that you are not the only introvert who finds networking and connecting with strangers a hard thing to do. With time, however, the more comfortable you become with networking and talking to others, the easier it will be to actually reach out to someone new.

Feb 14, 2022