I’ve been told time and time again how important networking is for PR students – that applying to job postings is a waste of time and that a successful career is based on who you know. However, as an introvert, networking is the last thing I want to do. Ask me to revise my resume? Sure! Ask me to update my LinkedIn profile? Ok! But tell me to attend a networking mixer and I’ll be gritting my teeth the entire time.
That’s not to say I discredit the value of networking. I have learned firsthand how a strong network can help me attain things I never thought possible, but I prefer to approach networking in my own way.
Here’s how I’ve learned to succeed at (and even enjoy) networking as an introvert:
Look for one-on-one opportunities
Rather than attending the numerous mixers and career fairs you’re bound to have access to, schedule informational interviews with professionals you admire. This way you can do your research ahead of time and come prepared with thoughtful questions. You’ll build a more personal connection than you would by working a room and collecting business cards anyway.
Focus on listening, not speaking
Practice good listening skills rather than trying to supply the majority of the conversation. This means making eye contact while the other person is speaking, smiling appropriately and paying close attention to what they’re saying so you can ask insightful follow-up questions.
Make the most of the situation
If you do have to attend networking events, such as conferences or mixers, make them work for you. Earlier this month, I attended the PRSSA National Conference with hundreds of other students from around the country. Although we had a tightly packed schedule, I made time for myself to recharge even if it meant skipping a session I wasn’t necessarily interested in. Although I missed out on some of the content, having 45 minutes in a hotel room by myself allowed me to recuperate so that I could fully immerse myself in the next activity.
Do you consider yourself an introvert? How do you take networking into your own hands?
Photo by: John Mitchell