This article was originally published in print in Art Hive Magazine. You can find this article "Networking for Introverts" in the printed issue of Art Hive Magazine #25: https://issuu.com/arthivemagazine/docs/arthive25
4 TIPS TO HELP YOU CANDIDLY CONNECT WHEN YOU ARE NATURALLY TIMID.
by Bea Harris
Job hunting is a challenge for many introverts, and they should never underestimate how much their current coworkers and other business contacts can help their efforts. But many introverts don’t network well because they don’t know how, or don’t make it a priority. Thankfully, it is a skill that is easy to learn, and I’ll teach you how.
• PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Many introverts enjoy their alone time with only a few close friends. Even though they can make and form strong relationships, they don’t usually seek out friendships in new social settings, especially if it means meeting a lot of unfamiliar people. But creating relationships in different social situations is one key to job networking, which is why introverts need to practice their people skills.
Consider your body language, experience, and comfort level when planning out the best strategy. Asking friends for their thoughts is especially valuable; accurately judging yourself isn’t always easy! Taking classes at local colleges, meeting new people with your friends’ help, or joining a recreational club are ways you can practice while still having fun.
Bringing along an outgoing friend, family member, or co-worker can also help ease your nerves when having to make meaning- ful conversations and connections with new people.
Remember, too, that it is okay to take it slow. Becoming comfortable and confident takes time and even doing little things, like spending time with large groups of people or initiating a few new conversations a week, can help you develop your networking ability.
• BRING BUSINESS CARDS
Life is full of chance encounters, and you never know when you will meet a new friend that will help your career. These meetings are also fleeting, meaning you should take action to make sure you stay in contact.
Offering a business card is one of the easiest ways to share our contact informa- tion, and is also great advertising. Business cards are especially valuable if you have an online presence to which you can direct your new friends; many people prefer browsing a web page over visiting a physical business in person.
Your cards should communicate your professional information clearly; over-
ly complex designs will only annoy and confuse your readers. Include only contact information and the name of your business, if you have one. Also, be careful when using mottoes and favorite quotes. While popular additions, they can seem unprofessional or off-putting if they are vague or poorly writ- ten, or have political or religious meanings.
Create card designs that are simple and easy to read; don’t use fancy fonts or add too many artistic elements. You can even use blocks of solid color to create an attractive card that doesn’t overwhelm your readers. Just like a successful business logo, busi- ness cards are memorable because they are unique, simple, and clear.
You can leave your cards at businesses you use, with their permission of course! Giving friends a few to share is another solid strat- egy, especially if they have a lot of social connections.
Also, avoid giving away your business cards too aggressively. When talking with a new acquaintance, wait until your job comes up in the conversation. If it doesn’t, ask if they
want a card right before you part ways. Don’t think, though, that you have to make new social connections to grow your network; your friends are a valuable resource!
• CREATE AN ONLINE PRESENCE
You don’t need to meet people in person to grow your business network. In fact, many companies and job seekers use the internet to find new contacts. While some experts recommend using social media or creating a blog, there are many ways to grow your network. If you are an artist, for example, writing about art might not work as well as creating and sharing it. Always craft your online presence to show what you are offer- ing your potential customers or employers.
While there isn’t one way to create an online presence, there are some guidelines that make sense no matter how you choose
to reach your audience. First, be genuine. There is nothing wrong with being friendly or acting to protect someone’s feelings, but people will find out if you are trying to fool or use them.
• BECOME AN EXPERT
People use the internet to entertain them- selves and find information. Introverts
are known for being passionate about the things they love, and you can leverage your hobbies into an online audience if you share what you learn. If you are looking for a job in a specific field, consider creating media or blog posts about it. That is also a good way to create relevant experience until you land your next job.
Introverts aren’t known for their networking skills. But they have everything they need to build a potent arsenal of business contacts if they learn how to embrace their own unique strengths.