Networking is essential—you never know where your next job will come from—but it can feel like a real chore, especially for introverts. And just how do you continue to network when social distancing is so important? Here are six tips for introverts.
1. Consider the Format
Virtual networking can be done over live video or text-based apps, and both are great for introverts. Text-based networking offers you a chance to self-edit a bit more easily, and you don’t have to worry as much about feeling like you fit in. And while video-based networking still involves putting yourself out there and looking professional, it can also be more comfortable because it’s a bit awkward for everyone and all-too-common tech glitches lighten the mood—we’ve all been there!
2. Build in Accountability
The biggest hurdle introverts face when networking is forcing yourself to actually do it. A simple way to ensure that is to make it non-negotiable by building in accountability. You might tell a friend about it, knowing they’ll ask you about it afterward. Or commit to doing something for the event—maybe helping with moderating—so that you absolutely have to participate.
3. Lean In to Your Good Listening Skills
Introverts tend to be empathetic and good listeners, so use that to your advantage. Lean in to your inclination to interact in a more gentle way and offer to help or support in some way. This makes the people you’re speaking with feel like you want to make a meaningful connection—it’s a two-way relationship rather than just looking for something from them.
4. Ask Questions—But Don’t Be All Business
While it’s a great idea to listen and contribute to conversations, don’t forget to ask questions. You might ask about something related to your industry, but remember that you’re making a connection here, so don’t be afraid to talk about broader topics—think current events, sports and pop culture.
5. Think About What You Can Do for Them
Networking is a long game—you shouldn’t go in expecting to meet someone who can offer you a job within a matter of days or even weeks. It’s about building relationships to broaden your circle so that you come to mind when opportunities do come up. You might suggest a podcast they might find interesting, or a person they should meet—something that shows you’re interested in a reciprocal relationship.
6. Give Groups a Chance
Not every virtual networking event you sign up for is going to be amazing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give a group a second chance. The mix of people could be wildly different next time or the format might be adjusted based on feedback, and that could make all the difference. If it’s still not great the second time around, then go ahead and move on to another group.