Career and Networking tips
Have you ever been invited personally to a networking event you don’t want to attend? Is it not true that we all panic and rush to come up with a credible excuse not to attend in a split second? Then you are member of “The Networking-chills Club” and yes! It’s a People Place word that we made it up. Joking aside, finding the right career path and gaining the most out of networking events is normally seen as the place where outgoing people succeed. However, that theory no longer holds true and we thought its about time that we readdress the balance with our career and networking tips for introverts.
Before I go much further, I think it’s worth highlighting that even if you’re an introvert, you still need to be confident in yourself. Just because someone considers themselves to be an introvert, it doesn’t mean they should lack confidence. They just present confidence in a different way.
Career tips for introverts
1. Look for a job that matches your personality
You want to be happy in your job and if standing up in front of others scares the living daylights out of you, then you should avoid it. What I’m basically getting at is that your job needs to match your personality. Not sure what type of job would match your personality? No problem. Simply search online for “personality job matching test” and you’ll get a number of different tools come up.
The trick to using these tools is to answer the questions quickly without thinking too much. Not only are they a fun thing to do but they could throw up some really interesting results and career paths that you might not have thought of before.
2. Focus on your qualifications
Whereas extroverts rely on their personality, introverts can shift the attention to their qualifications. As people, we all want to be accepted and liked, but if telling jokes and being the centre of attention isn’t your thing, then don’t fake it.
The vast majority of businesses are looking for candidates who they can trust to get the job done. While an extrovert might be great at making small talk by the water cooler, it’s the introvert who’ll get their head down and complete the job.
When preparing your cover letter or resume, highlight how your qualifications and skills will help the business reach its objectives. Which reminds me. Try to research the company beforehand and find out what it is they’re trying to achieve.
3. Use it as a strength
No one should be embarrassed by who they are and being an introvert can be a real strength when it comes to finding your next role. In love, you’ve probably heard of the phrase, ‘opposites attract’, and it can be just the same in business, but perhaps without the romantic elements.
Successful organisations are a mix of different people. Companies that are full of extroverts will quickly fail and productive companies need to have the right blend of different personality types. Don’t try and second-guess what the company wants or how they want you to behave.
To be at your happiest and most productive, you need to find a company where you fit in and that involves using being an introvert as a strength.
4. Find your passion
We’ve all got things we’re passionate about. Activities that we love doing and that can keep us occupied for hours. If you have something like that, then turn that into your career or find a job within that industry.
Not only will you wake up each morning bursting with enthusiasm to go to work but you’ll also be able to talk to people and build relationships much more easily.
5. Play the game
You might dislike the office small-talk but there is a certain truth to the thinking that in order to be heard you need to be seen, or rather you need to be seen to be heard, I can’t quite make up my mind. Either way, it might involve stepping out of your comfort zone and embarking on a game of ‘office politics’.
It’s the game where there are no written rules yet everyone seems to know how to play it. Make your voice known, share stories of how good you are, what you’ve achieved and make friends with influential decision makers. Here, again, being an introvert can help as you won’t be seen as the ‘pushy person’ trying to force their way up the corporate ladder.
Networking tips for introverts
1. Take it online
Gone are the days when networking only takes place in large halls where you have to be the one to come up with a great opening line, such as, ‘How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice’. Get it? Ok, moving on. The point is, the use of such ice-breakers can now be confined to the bin as building your network can now take place in the online world.
Commenting on forums, demonstrating your expertise and helping others is far easier to do from behind the computer screen. Sure, there is still a place for traditional networking events but if the thought of attending them does fill you with dread, then try building your online network first.
2. Help behind the scenes
If the only way to get in touch with the people who can bolster your career prospects is by meeting them in person at a networking event, then try helping out at the event. Handing out name tags at the welcome table, for example, will a) allow you to meet everyone and b) keep your mind occupied and distracted away from having to make small talk.
Most event organisers are normally very grateful to have any extra help and it can be a great way of getting the ball rolling with a conversation. Reach out to the organisers beforehand and let them know that you’re willing to help.
3. Keep listening
By their very nature, most introverts are very good listeners. This is a great asset to have as most people at networking events like to talk about themselves. If you find yourself listening a lot, then take on all of the information before imparting your words of wisdom.
When you do get the opportunity to speak, ask open-ended questions that will allow the speaker to provide further explanation or insight. It’ll show that you’re a thinker and that you can get to the point quickly without waffling on, which again, are attributes that businesses admire.
4. Take notice of your body
Body language is so important when it comes to making a great first impression and with networking, you very rarely get a second chance. There are countless resources available online that talk about body language and what certain positions and poses mean so I won’t repeat them here.
However, I will point out what I consider to be the four key points to be aware of.
1. Your posture
2. Your attire
3. Your smile
4. Where you’re looking.
5. Ask a friend
If you need a bit of a confidence booster, then you can always take a friend along to the networking event with you. They will help you feel less conspicuous about standing around on your own but you will need to avoid spending your whole time talking to only them.
Remember, you’re at the event to meet people so your friend needs to know when to talk to you and when to step away. If they’re particularly good at getting the conversation going, then ask them to use that skill or their contacts to get you the introduction that you want.
Regardless of the type of person you are and believe me, we’ve worked with some ‘unique’ characters in the past, if you want or need further advice and guidance on your next career move or how to network more effectively, please get in touch with us at People Place and book a One2One consultation by registering online, or give us a quick call to come visit us and get comfortable in our cool sofas sipping a great cappuccino or a chilling soft drink.
What you’ve got to lose? 🙂
Tomas Cides Jimenez, Managing Director at People Place Recruitment & Staffing Prague.
I’ve joined the incredible group of people in 2007 as a Recruitment Consultant, hired by who I count now as a friend (Mr. Ian Pike, alias Mr.P). And I have successfully work my way up in the organization to my current position, been responsible for the entire agency business operations within Central and Eastern Europe. I work closely with managers and executives at all levels across a very wide range of industries within our clients’ portfolio to ensure our service delivery and client value proposition is always at the highest standards.