Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Re-Boot Camp Week 4: Promotion & Networking Strategies for Introverts

Are you an introvert? 
Are you uncomfortable in crowds, and happier in one-on-one interactions or small groups?
Do you prefer more in-depth, rather than surface, relationships with people?
Do you prefer to take time to reflect before you answer questions or contribute to a conversation?  Do you try to avoid idle conversation or small talk?
Do you get reenergized by being alone, and feel you need privacy?
Do you tend to keep your thoughts and emotions private, often saying little?

If you answered yes to the above questions, you’re most likely an introvert, or have introverted tendencies.  If you’re interested in doing a more in-depth assessment of your personality type, our career counselors can provide testing and analysis.  Contact our office for more information.

Being an introvert is often considered a disadvantage, at least in the work world, and especially in a job search.  Surely it is the outgoing, energetic person who circles the room at a networking event, making sparkling conversation with everyone, who has the advantage and will get the job.  Having gazed with amazement at these seemingly indefatigable bundles of energy, introverts are apt to think they haven’t got a chance at competing, and go home to wait for the phone to ring.  Introverts tend to believe that people should recognize the quality of their work and their accomplishments at face value, with no self -promotion.  The effort required to outreach for assistance seems overwhelming, they often don’t ask for help with their search, and avoid networking like the plague.

The good news is it’s not necessary to change your personality, either for your job search, or for success on the job, but you may have to adapt your approach to successfully interact with extroverts and become a more effective networker.  Here are some tips.

First, recognize that introverts have many strengths and success qualities, and advantages over more talkative networkers.  Introverts are good listeners who really focus and reflect on what’s being said, which allows them to develop solid relationships with people (a distinct benefit in networking). 

Don’t be afraid to toot your horn; this may feel uncomfortable for you, but it’s necessary to show everyone that you’re the best candidate by showcasing your skills and accomplishments.  Develop key talking points about yourself that you can use for different situations – networking events, interviews, talking with your seatmate on a plane.  Go back to your brand; this is the essence of who you are, and should be the starting point for telling your story.  The more confident you are in your brand, the better able you’ll be to negotiate networking situations.

Try to network one-on-one, where you may feel more comfortable.  Prepare, so you feel more in control; set the goals for what you want to accomplish, conduct research on the person you’re meeting with (LinkedIn is good for this), and their company, have a script or questions outlined, and remember you’re there to collect information – this is where introverts shine!   As networking is a two-way street, look for ways you can help people in addition to them helping you; you may feel more comfortable in this role.
Create a networking plan that is structured, with specific activities, goals, and a timeline.  Don’t schedule too many networking activities for one day.  Network when your energy is highest if possible.  Build in rewards for completed tasks, and always take time to renew your energy.

At networking events, have realistic expectations; you don’t have to collect business cards from everyone in the room, and ask all of them if they know of any jobs for you.  The purpose of networking is to develop mutually beneficial relationships based on shared interests.  Set a specific goal for each event, i.e. talking to three people, with whom you’ll follow up after the event (using the one-on-one strategy above).   Some amount of small talk is inevitable, so prepare with conversation openers.  Know the event – its purpose, the type of people who may be there.  Take a support person; even if you don’t stay together during the event you’ll feel better knowing someone is there who has your back.  Get the lay of the land before approaching anyone and plan your approach; you may want to join a small group, or look for someone who’s standing alone.  Set a departure time in advance; if you end up staying later, that’s fine, but at least you’ve given yourself permission to not stay until the very end.  Give yourself kudos afterward, for pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone to do something to move your job search forward.  Then take time to renew your energy - probably by yourself in a room with no other stimuli!

Like any new talent or skill, it takes practice to become an effective networker.  By working with your strengths as an introvert, and having confidence in yourself as a candidate, you’ll start to reap the benefits of networking, and that will give you the encouragement you need to continue!


  1. Happy 4th of July Everyone!!!

    As an introvert, I agree with many of the points listed above. In order to not get nervous about networking events I try to do the following:

    -Remind myself that networking is essentially making a new friend

    -If I can leave the event with at least one new friend, I have done a good job

    -Finding common ground with a person is helpful when networking
    # I actually own a book full of questions and enjoy asking questions in order to improve my conversation skills

    -Listening is just as important as talking
    # I am currently learning to master my listening skills as active listening is an asset

    I am still learning to toot my own horn, but I think the usage of Facebook and Twitter will help improve this skill set :D

    I would love to hear what things other people do to prepare themselves for networking events.

    Ihudiya Finda Ogburu

    1. Thanks Ihudiya, those are all great suggestions for making the networking process easier. I love that you have a book of questions, as it's sometimes hard for introverts to think of what to ask people, especially in a noisy room full of strangers! And I like that you have turned those "strangers" into friends - this positive way of thinking can really make such events easier to get through.

  2. Hi folks,
    I am Tom Hamilton. I thought I would try to kill two birds with one stone. One, please find my branding statement below that I would appreciate feedback on. Two, to address the networking topic of this week I would like to schedule a one on one with someone on the Reboot Summer Camp list next week. What better resources than RIT alumni? Please find my contact information below if you would like to meet. Thanks.

    I am a Business Systems Analyst with extensive experience providing software solutions that increase an organization’s effectiveness. I provide information to improve the quality of decision making in the organization. I automate tasks reducing manual labor hours, thereby saving money and improving quality. I am experienced in the full software development life cycle (SDLC) and know both sides of the software house; development and support.

    Thomas W. Hamilton (Tom)
    Business Systems Analyst
    Phone: 585.305.1284
    Email : t_w_hamilton@yahoo.com