In case you haven’t noticed, I am a huge fan of networking because it is the best job search tool out there. Just review CareerXroads Source of Hire Report and you will learn that ‘referrals’ are the number one source of external hires, coming in at 27.5%. Yet, most job seekers associate networking with the plague. They avoid it all costs and as a result subject themselves to the rejection merry-go-round associated with a job search strategy focused solely on the ‘published’ job market.
Even if you are not an introvert but abhor the thought of networking to land your next job, follow these tips to jump start your networking efforts.
6 Networking tips for Introverts:
1. Call it something else. The term networking conjures up the likes of telemarketing or sales to many of us. Instead think of it as going to lunch or having coffee, having a business meeting or doing field research. Just giving it a new name can help get you motivated to network.
2. Do the easy stuff first. Practice with people you already know and trust. Share with them your career objective and strategy. You may be amazed at the helpful and constructive feedback you will gain, not to mention getting more comfortable telling your story.
3. Branch out. Next, find people you don’t know but who enjoy talking about the things you like. The topic may not even be related to your career objective but perhaps a hobby or sport you share with someone else. Photography, web design, field hockey maybe? The point is, get comfortable talking about subjects you can converse in easily, which may not necessarily be focused on your job objective.
4. Turn it up a notch. Next, seek out those you don’t know who are interested in things you want to learn about. Meetup groups are a great way to learn about all sorts of topics ranging from search engine optimization to drum circles. These are great for getting referrals and the format is typically small and informal. Meetups exist in 45,000 cities across the nation and boast 9.5 billion members, covering 90,000 topics!
5. Volunteer. Volunteering gives you focus and a purpose and allows you to network while you give back to a bigger cause. Many job contacts and ultimate hires have occurred as a result of volunteering. Best thing is you don’t know you are networking because your energy is focused on helping somebody else.
6. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Harvey Mackay, author of the premier book on networking, ‘Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty’ says, “The more you exercise your networking muscles, the stronger they get – and the easier networking becomes”. You need to practice.
Lastly, if the thought of networking still has you running for the comfort of your office chair and laptop consider one final Mackay Maxim. “The really big networking mistakes people make in their lives come from the risks they never take.” Follow us on Twitter.