You might be out there looking for a job or maybe you’re looking for a freelance opportunity. Before you jump into a career, it’s important to remember the most important step: networking.
Networking as a young professional can be intimidating. Fresh out of college, the opportunities are out there, but require a little bit of networking and a little bit of skill to snatch the perfect one. Being an introvert adds a little to the mix and it can be frustrating, or may evoke a sense of helplessness when you have difficulty reaching out to potential employers.
Networking starts at home. It starts with the initial connection you may make via email or social media. Here are 5 ways to network when you’re an introvert:
1. Have short conversations, follow-up with lots of questions:
The great part about networking is that you should feel no obligation to engage in a conversation for a long period of time. Be short and sweet. Have a little speech prepared for yourself, about yourself, but don’t go into every detail about your life story or work experience. Those experiences will unravel as the opportunity presents itself.
Offer to follow-up with the employer or individual the following week. Ask questions after you’ve had a few days to digest the conversation. Ask questions you may have felt uncomfortable asking in person. It might help build a little confidence!
2. Form a few close relationships and ignore the crowd:
Do your research. Find employers that have small companies or a small presence and start small. Form close knit relationships with those individuals. There’s almost no need to get lost in a crowd when the ones you hold closest are more likely to remember you.
3. Give the employer a portfolio to look at:
After you’ve met an employer who might be interested in you or vice versa, give them a copy of your portfolio (or link). Don’t be afraid to leave them with a little memory of your conversation.
Give them a chance to follow-up with you, which is just as important as you following up with them. Providing a copy of your portfolio also takes the pressure off of yourself to indulge in every project you’ve done. It gives the employer an opportunity to do a little digging for themselves.
4. Tag team at a networking event:
If you’re like most, you like to have a side kick with you. Maybe it’s that one close friend that really understands your hesitation to put yourself out there or provides support when entering a crowded room. Bring them along. Invite them to network with you to build your confidence and provide a boost of confidence.
5. Go local then go big:
No need to fly to the largest city in the US and network with Fortune 500 companies just yet. Start small. Find a local networking event at your community center or a small local college. Reach out to local businesses you’re familiar with, put a bug in their ear about your work, skills and talent.
Let them come to you. Companies WILL do that! If someone is really interested, they’ll reach out to you. It’s just a matter of getting a little presence in the right direction that’ll land you that job you’ve been reading about!