Networking and Job Hunting for Introverts
If you’re introverted, then you already know how nerve-racking socializing can be. When you add to that the pressure of job hunting and networking, the entire situation can turn into nothing but sweaty palms and shyness. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to set your introverted tendencies aside and excel in job hunting and networking situations.
Practice Meeting New People
Regularly putting yourself in social situations is one of the best ways to get over your introverted tendencies. Take every opportunity possible to meet new people and use those social experiences as practice for future job hunting and networking situations.
You can start putting yourself out there by attending any social events that come your way. Whether it’s a birthday party or simply going out to eat with your friends, regularly socializing will prepare you for one-on-one interviews as well as business networking situations.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
It doesn’t matter if you're heading into a job interview or an industry networking event, preparation is the key to social confidence. If you’re on the hunt for a job or heading to an interview, make sure you know your résumé like the back of your hand. Likewise, make sure you know the companies you are interviewing with inside and out.
Preparation does wonders for networking situations as well. Knowing about your industry and other players at networking events will give you the confidence to initiate conversations. Breaking the ice with interesting facts or industry knowledge is an effective way to ignore your introverted tendencies and socialize with ease.
Initiating a conversation is a great way to get comfortable in a networking event or other social situation. Talking points are the perfect icebreakers, so think of a few ahead of time and use them to get the ball rolling. You don’t have to plan out the entire conversation as this will come naturally once the other person starts contributing.
Some great talking points in job interviews are your past work experience, your specific academic accomplishments, or your career goals. Likewise, if you’re attending a networking event, you can begin conversations by talking about the event itself. Were there any interesting speakers or demonstrations? It can even be something as simple as how the food at the event tastes.
Consider an Extroverted Education
There’s no such thing as a degree in extroversion. However, there are degrees that can improve your professional skills while helping you break free from your introverted tendencies. By seeking these degrees, you can overcome your introversion while gaining and education in the field of your choice.
Business management, human resources, political management, and political science degree concentrations all encourage an extroverted mindset. There are many other degrees that require skills in public speaking and communications, all of which can help in your job hunting and networking endeavors.
Introverts tend to let their shyness and nerves get the better of them in social situations. This can sometimes be the result of exhaustion from too much socializing, especially when going from one interview or networking event to the next.
If your schedule is full of interviews and meetings, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to regroup between events. Taking a breath, collecting yourself, and strategizing your next encounter will give you the energy to enter the next interview or networking situation with an extroverted mindset.
Learn From an Extrovert
If you have an extrovert in your life, use them as a learning tool, especially for networking situations. Whether it’s a personal friend or a work acquaintance, shadowing an extroverted person can help you pick up on social cues that might not come natural to you.
Extroverts are talented conversationalists who know how to get others talking and jump into conversations that are already taking place. As an introvert, these are skills that can help you break out of your shy bubble. Following that gregarious friend around a party or making the rounds with a talkative coworker at an industry networking event will teach you how to overcome your introversion.
By keeping the pointers above in mind, you’ll succeed in any social situation – work related or not.
JT Ripton is a freelance business, marketing and career advice writer, who has written for sites like CareerBuilder.com, BusinessInsider.com, Entrepreneur.com and more. You can follow him on Twitter @JTRipton.