I have to confess: I’m an introvert. People I’ve met in person are often surprised by this little known fact. They assume that public speaking and networking skills equate to extroversion. And, this makes sense on the surface. But, introverts can excel too. If you struggle, here are three tips to help you excel in your job search.
First, practice networking. Don’t wait until it really counts to go to networking events. Prepare by writing down and practicing your elevator pitch. Get your business cards together. Think through how you will approach a business social event, and whether or not you’re comfortable going alone. Set a goal to meet at least five new people per event, to exchange business cards, and to follow up with them after the event online and potentially in person.
Second, look for opportunities to have private meetings with networking contacts. One on one meetings are typically much easier (and more fruitful) for introverts. Despite only meeting with one person at a time, quality often trumps quantity. Invite new contacts for a coffee, or for lunch. Take the time to get to know each person, and to find out what you have in common. Look for opportunities to help the other person, and try to avoid asking for favors up front. Relationship building takes time, and isn’t all about landing a job in the moment.
Here’s a bonus tip about events. If you struggle to remember names or details, write notes on the back of every business card you receive. Include the date you met the person, where you were, and a few things you talked about. Before you attend future networking events, review your business card notes. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it will be to remember names, and how impressed your new contacts will be.
Third, use the internet to your advantage. If you aren’t tapped into the latest gossip on a company, check out their reviews on Glassdoor.com. If you have an interview coming up, use LinkedIn to research your future hiring manager. Use sites like Salary.com to find out what other people are making in your field and in your city. In the past, much of this information was gathered by word of mouth. But, the internet gives you the power to learn more about the company, the hiring manager, and the job – all from the comfort of your living room.
Just remember, being an introvert is an asset. Depending on the type of job you do, the hiring manager may be looking for someone who’s a little quieter or a little more serious. And, if you struggle at networking events, keep in mind that the more you practice, the better you’ll become. Plus, you don’t have to be the best networker to be a great one. Networking isn’t a one-time event, or a competition. Your network is something you develop and grow over time, in many settings. This means that you’ll have many chances to make a great impression.
Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.