If you’re an introvert, chances are “networking” is the last thing you want to hear. However, it may be a necessary evil if you’d like to advance your IT career. If you’d like to make a switch to a new startup or established business, or if you want to climb the corporate ladder in your company, you’ll have to practice a little old-fashioned networking. Though you may never come to like it, these tips will make networking easier when it’s necessary.
You don’t have to start with anything that intimidates you or makes you uncomfortable—start small to ease yourself out of your comfort zone. Approaching a stranger at a conference, for instance, might be difficult, while asking a colleague to lunch may be a bit easier. Start with people you know, and then work up to networking with those you don’t.
In order for someone to decide that they’d like to work with you in the future, they’ll have to get to know you. For introverts, it can often be difficult to open up to strangers, even if it is for a good cause. You don’t have to talk about personal details, but don’t treat it like a job interview either. Find a common interest or a skill set that you share, and use that to form a more personal connection.
Everyone loves a good listener, and that’s one of the common traits that introverts excel at. If you don’t share information about yourself very easily, encourage the other person to talk about themselves. Ask meaningful questions about their professional career, and be fully engaged as you listen. This can not only endear you to your colleague, it can help you learn vital information that can help your networking efforts in the future.
Each introvert is unique, so there isn’t a cookie-cutter technique that can be applied to every circumstance. You should find a networking style that works for you, whether you work better in small, intimate settings, or you find networking in a group to be easier. This may involve a series of false starts, or you may find your groove right away. Try out a few different methods to find the best solution for your professional style.
Networking may not be easy, but you likely have a very specific set of character traits that can help you along the way. Introverts can be just as successful at networking as their extroverted counterparts, so no matter what, don’t lose hope as you work to advance your career.
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